Tennessee Tourism Thrives: 141 Million Visitors Spent a Record $29 Billion in 2022

Tennessee tourism generated $29 billion in direct visitor spending and saw 141 million visitors to the state in 2022, according to newly released data from Tourism Economics. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell announced the news today at Hospitality TN’s Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism in Knoxville.

The final report is good news for the state, showcasing numbers even higher than the preliminary report revealed in May 2022, which already showed the state at historic highs. All 95 counties saw an increase in visitor spending in 2022, and 63 counties outpaced inflation.

“Tourism drives a strong economy, creates jobs and builds a better quality of life for all Tennesseans,” said Gov. Lee. “We continue to welcome visitors to see all Tennessee has to offer, from the Mississippi River to the Great Smoky Mountains.”

“Tennessee is thriving as tourism is soaring,” said Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “Our industry’s hard work is paying off with record levels of visitor spending and significantly outpacing inflation. It is our privilege to showcase these numbers and express our gratitude to our partners, attractions, elected leaders and visitors who made a record year for Tennessee.”

Key Highlights from Economic Impact of Travel 2022 report (full fact sheet):

  • Tennessee Tourism generated $28.9 billion in direct visitor spending in 2022, up 19% from 2021.
  • International visitation is quickly returning, as spending reached $670 million, a 278% increase from 2021 and near pre-pandemic levels (72% recovered to 2019).
  • Tennessee saw 141 million visitors in 2022, up 10.5% year-over-year. Travelers in Tennessee spend an estimated $79 million per day.
  • Visitor spending generated $2.9 billion in state and local tax revenue. Without tourism, each Tennessee household would have to pay an additional $1,100 in taxes each year.
  • Tennessee ranks 11th in the nation for travel spending, the highest rank ever and the fastest-growing state in the top 40 since 2018.

County Success Stories

  • Nashville visitor spending increased 35% year-over-year.
  • Sevier Co. held on to pandemic gains in visitor spending with a 9.4% year-over-year increase.
  • Davidson Co. and the six contiguous counties (Cheatham, Robertson, Sumner, Wilson, Rutherford, Williamson) saw a 19.5% year-over-year increase in visitor spending.
  • Shelby, Tipton and Fayette counties combined for a 9.75% year-over-year visitor spending increase.
  • Knox Co. and contiguous counties experienced an 11.9% year-over-year increase in visitor spending.
  • Hamilton Co. and contiguous counties saw a 9.6% year-over-year increase in visitor spending.
  • Tri-Cities (Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol) saw an 11.4% year-over-year increase in visitor spending.
  • Six counties met or exceeded the state average year-over-year increase in visitor spending:
    o   Davidson, Cheatham, Cannon, Van Buren, Sequatchie, Wilson
  • Two counties that recently moved off the distressed county status (Grundy and Morgan) saw a 17% and 18.5% year-over-year increase respectively in direct visitor spending

Partners and media can utilize the online interactive dashboard for the latest state and county information of the 2022 Economic Impact on Travel Report.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development works with the Tennessee Tourism Committee, local convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, city and county leaders, tourism attractions and the hospitality industry in all 95 counties to inspire travel to the state.