Tennessee tourism generated $16.8 Billion in 2020 from visitor spending despite COVID-19

Kelleigh Michanichou


NASHVILLE, TN - According to newly released economic impact statistics from the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, Tennessee tourism produced $16.8 billion in domestic and international travel spending in 2020, a 31.6 percent decrease from the previous year. Tennessee's tourism industry supported approximately 150,000 jobs and generated $1.4 billion in state and local tax income. Despite the impact of COVID-19, Tennessee outperformed the national average reduction of 42 percent through promoting outdoor vacation options.

Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Mark Ezell emphasized the need of continuing the industry's strong recovery.

Gov. Lee believes that tourism is important for Tennessee's strong economic recovery. “By working together to support small businesses and drive job growth, we will ensure Tennessee continues to be one of the top travel destinations in the world.”

Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Department of Tourist Development, is commited to ensure the recovery of Tennesse's economy and tourism. He believes that the state will do more than just survive the pandemic.

Highlights from the 2020 Report:

  • Tennessee's leisure and hospitality business set a new high in the first two months of 2020. COVID-19 was the worst crisis in the history of the leisure and hospitality sector.
  • Tourism in 2020 will trend away from business and individual travel toward longer, leisurely family vacations.
  • In the year 2020, outdoor attractions grew at an unprecedented rate. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for example, saw a record 12 million visits.
  • In Tennessee, travel spending increased in 15 of the state's counties. More than 5% increas happened in Grainger, Van Buren, Cheatham, Hickman, Campbell, and Union Counties.
  • Tourism was Tennessee’s fourth largest employer in 2020.
  • Last year, tourism revenue helped each Tennessee home save $550 in state and local taxes.

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