NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As inflation and gas prices rise, some Americans are re-considering summer travel plans. So what does this mean for Tennessee tourism?
State tourism experts say high prices aren’t stopping consumers.
“So far we have really seen zero impact from inflationary numbers,” said Butch Spyridon, President, and CEO of Nashville’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Last week, an estimated 80,000 people traveled to Nashville from all 50 states and 39 countries for CMA Fest.
Statewide tourism leaders don’t think rising costs are preventing people from traveling to other parts of Tennessee either.
“While there are concerns about inflation and the economy, we believe Tennessee is well-positioned to weather those challenges. Americans are ready to travel, there is pent-up demand,” said Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
According to Brian Wagner, the Assistant Commissioner of Marketing with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, tourism tax collections were up 9.7% in 2021, despite COVID-19 restrictions.
This is likely because of the state’s diverse outdoor attractions, including the Great Smoky Mountains, 56 state parks, and Dollywood.
“Tennessee is geographically blessed. It’s about a day’s drive from 75% of the population in the United States. So, what we’re seeing is people still getting in the car and going, and fortunately, Tennessee might be a shorter trip than say going to a national park out west,” Wagner said.
Spyridon says other free attractions, like Fourth of July fireworks and live music 365 days a year on Lower Broadway in Nashville, may also help families cut costs on summer vacations to the Volunteer State. “We haven’t seen a downturn yet,” Spyridon said. “But we will always keep a watchful eye to see if anything changes.”
According to the state’s Department of Tourist Development, Tennessee is on track to post another record tourism year in 2022.