Tennessee Tourism Commissioner touts industry growth at governor’s conference

KNOXVILLE (press release)—Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker addressed industry professionals during the 2014 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism, Thursday in Knoxville, announcing the latest statistics from the 2013 Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee as reported by U.S. Travel Association.

“Tennessee’s tourism industry experienced major growth in 2013 and is continuing to set new records across the state in 2014,” Whitaker said. “Our industry generated $1.3 billion in state and local sales tax revenue. This means more dollars that can be used for education, public safety and other essential services for all the citizens of Tennessee.”

Tourism expenditures saw $16.7 billion in direct domestic and international travel expenditures in 2013, a 3.4 percent increase over last year. Nineteen of Tennessee’s 95 counties received more than $100 million in domestic travel expenditures in 2013.

Tennessee saw a record-setting 96.4 million person-stays in 2013, a 4.7 percent increase over 2012. During 2013 domestic and international traveler spending in Tennessee generated 148,700 jobs, a 1.7 percent increase over 2012. On average every $112,411 spent by domestic and international travelers in Tennessee directly supported one job. International travel to Tennessee increased by 7 percent to reach an economic impact of $531.6 million.

Another important rating for Tennessee is customer satisfaction which landed at an impressive 8.54 out of 10. The satisfaction scores are greater than those of the average U.S. destination.

Whitaker’s State of the Industry address also included an update on the department’s recently-launched “Made in Tennessee” branding campaign, an initiative that has already garnered impressive results, thanks to the involvement of Tennessee celebrities Dolly Parton, Keith Urban and Jack White.

The Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism informs, updates and inspires tourism partners from across the state through keynote speakers, seminars, networking and the annual state of the industry presentation. The event is a partnership between the Department of Tourist Development and TnHTA. This year’s conference was hosted by Visit Knoxville.

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