With travel spending of more than $276 million, an 8.8 percent increase over 2006, Blount County is now ranked the No. 6 county in visitor expenditures in the State of Tennessee according to the Travel Industry Association (TIA). Additionally, Blount County claimed the highest increase in tourism spending in East Tennessee, among destinations with annual expenditures of $100 million or more, for the second year in a row, with the 2005-2006 increase at 10.74 percent.
“We have worked hard on creatively approaching tourism promotion, and we have benefited from those efforts with steady increases in our tourism revenue for the past 10 years” said Herb Handly, executive vice president of tourism for the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The tourism industry in Blount County generated $75.5 million in payroll and 9.39 million on local tax revenue in 2007.
“Blount County can be proud that it has not only built a strong tourism base, but thanks to the strong leadership of Herb and the visitors bureau, it has created a sustainable tourism program that focuses on the heritage, history and culture of our community,” said Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham. “With the beauty of our area tourism is a natural industry, but we have carefully planned and chosen the type of destination we will be, and I am proud that we are striving to be a destination that focuses on the authenticity of the experience.”
The top five counties in Tennessee in visitor expenditures are Davidson ($3,991.99 million), Shelby ($3,064.65 million), Sevier ($1,502.10 million), Knox ($796.82 million) and Hamilton ($710.39 million).