Gov. Bill Lee speaking on tourism in the state

Visitor spending in Knox County generated $187,899,100 in state and local tax revenue.
Statewide, Tennessee tourism generated $29 billion in direct visitor spending and saw 141 million visitors to the state in 2022.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:53 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Did you know Knox County ranks 4th out of the 95 counties in Tennessee for generating tourism dollars? That’s why the area is constantly growing. Gov. Bill Lee stopped in Knoxville Thursday for a convention on tourism, which is a big part of our state and East Tennessee.

Lee said that hospitality and tourism is the second largest money maker for the state of Tennessee.

“So I start it off by saying we’re really fortunate to be Tennesseans, we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, we have the most remarkable people in the world and we’re really attractive as a state to people outside of Tennessee and you know that,” said Lee.

Knoxville hosted the Governors Conference on Tourism for the first time in nine years. With the largest turn out since 2014 when it was first in Knoxville. We found out today that 141 million people visited Tennessee in 2022. This generated around $29 billion in visitor-spending for the state.

“The tourism and hospitality industry is the second largest contributor to our economy in our state second only to agriculture,” said Lee.

The 2022 Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee report shows tourism in Knox County made more than a billion dollars,14% higher than 2021. Melody Henry and her friends are New Jersey natives but are visiting Knoxville for the first time and said they will definitely be coming back.

“We didn’t know what to expect and we just pulled into the space and put the car in the parking lot and we’ve been walking up and down and I’ve learned more history here than I learned in the history books in school,” said Henry.

With all the growth coming to Tennessee, Lee addressed the issues facing the state, such as infrastructure and a work force shortage. He said the shortage is a nationwide problem but our state needs to make some adjustments.

‘We recognize that and we know we’re behind, we are $30 billion behind in our state and we should have been building more roads prior to this but we’re constrained by the revenue streams we have for highways,” said Lee.

Tax dollars generated by tourism supports important public services like education, health, and safety. The governor also said he wants exit 408 to allow more people to head to our mountains.