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Experts say Knoxville tourism numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels

Visit Knoxville said that hotel stays are up 1,000% recently, as more people arrive for events and more people go on vacation.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After a year spent at home with no travel plans, people are getting out of the house and exploring the world. One of their travel destinations is Knoxville.

Officials said that the city has seen a huge increase in the number of visitors. Visit Knoxville, which promotes the city as a destination for large conventions and tourism, said that hotel stays are up 1,000%.

Officials said the increase is mostly due to a rise in event traffic and increases in the number of people going on vacations across the U.S. They said those numbers are getting close to pre-pandemic levels.

"We were always on the map as a premier getaway destination," said Kim Bumpas, the president of Visit Knoxville. "And now everyone, as they're coming out of COVID, figuring out how they want to travel — us being a drivable destination is really paying off."

She said that most people go to Knoxville for outdoor adventure since the Great Smoky Mountains are nearby as well as the city's extensive Urban Wilderness trails. The visitor's center logged people arriving from 40 different states through April.