CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Montgomery County saw the second-highest growth rate in tourism spending of all 95 Tennessee counties during 2018, with direct travel spending increasing to a record high of $244.7 million, a jump of 9.12% over 2017, Visit Clarksville reported Friday.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell announced that the state hit a record-high $22 billion in domestic and international travel spending, up 6% from 2017. Travelers in Tennessee spend an estimated $60 million per day.
“Tourism is Tennessee’s second-largest industry,” said Visit Clarksville Board of Directors Chairman Kyle Luther. “The state’s growth has outpaced the nation for several years and 2018 was no exception. Locally, all of the Visit Clarksville staff have worked hard to achieve and maintain strong growth. We are thrilled to see the culmination of our efforts and our robust contributions to the local and state economy.”
Data from the U.S. Travel Association report showed tourism industry payroll in Clarksville-Montgomery County increased to more than $48 million. Local tax revenues from tourism spending increased to $4.6 million.
“This terrific news should not be surprising to anyone,” County Mayor Jim Durrett said. “As we add venues and attractions to our community, people become more interested in what Montgomery County has to offer. The numbers show that investing in our community pays for itself and provides dividends in many ways. Also, our visitors bureau does an excellent job promoting Clarksville and Montgomery County. Tourists visit to see what we have and enjoy the community because of our amazing people.”
Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts said the increase in direct tourist spending is "great news for our community.”
“This shows that our investment in parks and facilities like the Wilma Rudolph Event Center, Liberty Park, Fort Defiance, Heritage Park and the Customs House Museum -- to name just a few -- is really paying off," Mayor Pitts said. "The great work that goes into creating, maintaining and programming our recreation facilities does double duty by making our community more interesting for residents and by attracting a growing number of visitors.”
Theresa Harrington, Visit Clarksville Executive Director, credits much of the growth to the hard work and dedication of her staff.
“Most of our marketing efforts happen outside of the community – recruiting sports events and group tours, and all of the advertising and public relations we do. People in Clarksville don’t often see that, by design,” she says. “It’s a long-term game, an investment. But, we’ve been consistent in telling our story and showcasing our amenities and facilities to many different audiences. That has made the difference.”
The top five Tennessee counties for tourism growth for 2018 were:
- Rhea County, $39.7 Million, 9.17% increase
- Montgomery County, $244.7 Million, 9.12% increase
- Sevier County, $2.45 Billion, 7.97% increase
- Blount County, $407.8 Million, 7.91% increase
- Cocke County, $50.9 Million, 7.44% increase
About Visit Clarksville
The Clarksville-Montgomery County Tourism Commission was established by the State of Tennessee in 1979 to positively influence tourism in the Clarksville-Montgomery County area by promoting attractions, hosting conventions and group tours and engaging in large-scale marketing efforts. In 2015, the organization adopted the Visit Clarksville brand. It is governed by nine board of director members and is funded by a portion of the local hotel-motel tax.
Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell, Visit Clarksville Sales Director Frances Manzitto, Gov. Bill Lee and Visit Clarksville Executive Director Theresa Harrington gathered during the Governor’s announcement of the 2018 economic impact of travel on Tennessee. (Photo by Ed Rode.)