Record-Setting Year for Blount County Tourism
As a gateway to the Smoky Mountains, Blount County ranked eighth among Tennessee’s 95 counties in visitor expenditures with $378 million in 2017 according to the Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties report issued by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Gov. Bill Haslam.
Statewide, direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time high of $20.77 billion in 2017, up 6.3 percent over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association.
For the 12th consecutive year, Tennessee tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.83 billion. That marks a 7.6 percent increase over 2016 (national growth, 4.6 percent). Tourism generated 184,300 jobs for Tennesseans, a 3.1 percent growth year over year (national growth, 2.5 percent).
Blount County’s $378 million in visitor spending represents an increase of more than $20 million from 2016 and over $120 million from 2009.
Davidson County, which includes the city of Nashville, topped all county indices with $6.5 billion in tourism economic impact.
“We are thrilled to see the largest increase in visitor spending in Blount County since prior to the recession 10 years ago,” said Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority Director Kim Mitchell. “We see these results as a success of our focused and strategic regional and national marking efforts to promote Blount County as place for outdoor tourism and a meeting destination.”
Tourism jobs in the county were at an all-time high of 3,510 which also led to an all-time high payroll of $100.48 million.
Local tax receipts of $13.03 million were the sixth-highest total in the state, while state tax receipts totaled $20.98 million, both records for the county.
From 2016 to 2017, Blount county saw marked percentage increases in visitor expenditures (5.8%), payroll (6.7%), employment (2.5%), state tax receipts (4.6%) and local tax receipts (4.0%).
Among Tennessee’s top eight counties in tourist spending, Blount County’s 5.8% increase in visitor expenditures trailed only the Nashville area in growth which was 8.5%.
“Counties, cities and rural communities work hard to make our state a premier destination, welcoming visitors from around the world,” Haslam said. “Our state’s second biggest industry continues to see outstanding growth, break visitation records, boost Tennessee’s economy and create new jobs. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Tourism Committee continue to produce record results that fuel our state’s economy.”
All 95 counties saw an increase in economic impact with each having more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures, and 20 counties saw more than $100 million.
“The growth of the tourism industry and its economic impact comes from guests discovering the world-class food, history and culture, scenic beauty and outdoors and experiences that make Tennessee ‘The Soundtrack of America.’” Triplett said. “The authenticity and Southern hospitality from our communities and partners gives visitors an unbeatable experience and inspires them to return. The numbers show Tennessee is a destination of choice for visitors around the world.”
Because of the taxes generated by visitor activity in Blount County, each household sees a savings of more than $600 in local and state taxes.