Oct. 8, 2012 JACKSON, TENNESSEE — Topping off the three-day educational seminars and training at the 2012 Governor's Conference on Tourism, Governor Bill Haslam vowed to continue supporting the tourism industry in Tennessee during the event's closing luncheon. Addressing a packed room of tourism professionals from across the state, at the Sevierville Events Center, Haslam discussed how important tourism is to the state of Tennessee.
The big news about tourism was announced earlier during the conference. The economic impact was a record $15.36 billion spent by visitors coming to our state. The figures represented an increase of 8.7 percent — $1.2 billion — from 2010. It was the largest single year-over-year increase. Moreover, it was the sixth consecutive year that tourism businesses generated more than a billion dollars in state and local sales tax revenue.
"The Tennessee tourism brand is very strong," Haslam said. In 2011, Tennessee saw an increase in the number of jobs, reporting 177,800 tourism jobs throughout the state. For the second year in a row, all of Tennessee's 95 counties saw an increase in direct tourism expenditures.”
Nationally ranked 15th in 2010, Tennessee improved to the 9th spot. Additionally the increase was pervasive; all 95 counties gained, including 23 that topped 10 percent. As part of the overall figures, international travel visits rose 14.6 percent, sparking $450 million in visitor spending.
Haslam’s commitment to tourism included naming Gaylord Entertainment CEO Colin Reed to chair the Governor’s Tourism Taskforce established in the fall of 2011. Locally Kevin Kane and Regeana Bearden of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jack Soden of Elvis Presley Enterprises and Lori Nunnery of the Jackson-Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, serve on the committee.
Reed cited the geographical location of Tennessee — within a day’s driving distance of many people in the nation — and being the birthplace of Country Music Rock-A-Billy and the Blues. This along with the positive brand perceptions by Tennessee’s visitors and non-visitors strongly position the state. Reed’s goal is to provide a plan that incorporates Memphis-to-Mountain City appeal for visitors to the state. He said he expects the committee to present a plan by early December.
On the local front, Jackson-Madison County ranks no. 1 in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Tennessee once again, according to the 2011 Economic Impact of Tourism study released by the U.S. Travel Association for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Madison County generated a total of $171.84 million in tourism related expenditures ranking Madison County 12th out of 95 counties in the state.
Madison County also had the highest payroll expenditures in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, with $31.74 million. State Tax Receipts ($9.69 million) and Local Tax Receipts ($3.68 million) contributed to the economies of Madison County and the State of Tennessee.
In 2011, Madison County employed over 1640 residents in tourism. The study provides preliminary 2011 estimates of domestic and international traveler expenditures in Tennessee, as well as the employment, payroll income and tax revenue directly generated by this spending. The five counties with the biggest impact on tourism are Davidson, Shelby, Sevier, Hamilton and Knox, in that order.
Northwest Tennessee includes Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion, and Weakley counties. Southwest Tennessee includes Chester, Decatur, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, McNairy and Madison counties. In other regions, Madison County had expenditure percentages similar to Montgomery County ($201.34 million)
The Jackson County Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the City of Jackson and Madison County and operates on a portion of the lodging taxes collected by city and county hotels. The bureau is charged with growing travel-related spending in the county by re-investing those visitor-paid taxes to develop an
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