Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced on Tuesday the state’s tourism impact reached an all-time high of $18.4 billion in 2015.
The figure is an increase from the $17.7 billion spent in 2014.
“More travelers from around the world are visiting Tennessee each year,” Haslam said.
Haslam and state Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett made the announcement Tuesday morning outside of the Sevier County Courthouse.
According to a state release, tourism-generated jobs for Tennessee reached 157,400, which an increase from 152,900 jobs in 2014.
A total of 19 Tennessee counties drew more than $100 million. Five counties – Davidson ($5.69 billion), Shelby ($3.20 billion), Sevier ($2.03 billion), Hamilton ($1.02 billion) and Knox ($1.01 billion)– had more than $1 billion in economic impact.
Pie Chart: Top Tennessee counties by tourism spending
Tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue for the 10th consecutive year, reaching $1.6 billion, which is a 7 percent increase compared to 2014.
The state gets about $18 in return for every dollar spent on advertising tourism, according to Haslam and Triplett.
“Since we don’t have (a state) income tax, sales tax is how we pay for everything,” Haslam said. “When sales tax increases, that is good news for everybody.”
Triplett called the 18:1 ratio an “exciting” return on investment.
“People come to Tennessee for a variety of reasons including the music, but it’s the authenticity and Southern hospitality that our communities and partners deliver every day that keeps people coming back,” Triplett said.
Haslam appointed tourism leaders in the public and private sectors to the Tennessee Tourism Committee in 2011.
The Committee is chaired by Colin Reed of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., and co-chaired by Jack Soden of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., and Sande Weis the president of Music Road Resort.