Tennessee tourism industry thrives despite rising inflation

NASHVILLE, Tennessee. (WKRN) — As inflation and gas prices rise, some Americans are rethinking their summer travel plans. So what does this mean for tourism in Tennessee?

Government tourism experts say high prices are not deterring consumers.

“So far, we haven’t really seen any impact from the inflation numbers,” said Butch Spiridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Last week, nearly 80,000 people came to Nashville from all 50 states and 39 countries for CMA Fest.

Tourism leaders in the state don’t think rising prices are stopping people from traveling to other parts of Tennessee.

“While there are concerns about inflation and the economy, we believe Tennessee is well positioned to overcome these issues. Americans are ready to travel, there is pent-up demand,” said Mark Ezell, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development.

According to Brian Wagner, assistant commissioner of marketing for the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development, tourism tax collections increased by 9.7% in 2021 despite COVID-19 restrictions.

This is likely due to the state’s various outdoor attractions, including the Great Smoky Mountains, 56 State Parks, and Dollywood.

“Tennessee is geographically wounded. That’s about a day away from 75% of the US population. So we see people still getting in cars and driving, and luckily a trip to Tennessee can be shorter than, say, a trip to a national park in the west,” Wagner said.

Spiridon says other free attractions, such as Fourth of July fireworks and live music 365 days a year on Nashville’s Lower Broadway, can also help families cut summer vacation costs at the volunteer state. “We haven’t seen a recession yet,” Spiridon said. “But we will always be watching closely if anything changes.”

According to the state Department of Tourism Development, Tennessee is on track to set another record tourist year in 2022.


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