Governor’s Report: tourism by the numbers I

September 22, 2007

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen (D) gets it on tourism. Early in his first term, Bredesen plucked Susan Whitaker from Dollywood to become the commissioner of the Department of Tourist Development–I would rename it the Dept. of Tourism Development–and she brought a professionalism to a post that in the past had all too often been handed to political hacks.

Commissioner Susan Whitaker with Linda Caldwell of Tennessee Overhill

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Inside the Tennessee tourism industry

September 22, 2007

I just got back from Chattanooga and the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, an annual meeting of convention and visitor bureau people from all over the state, hotel and restaurant folks, and a host of vendors happy to sell something to one and all. I usually write from the point of view of visitors to Tennessee, so it was an interesting look behind the curtain at how the state promotes itself. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development released a boatload of statistics at the event, which I will serve up over the next few days.

First, to no surprise, tourism is big business in Tennessee. Travelers spent an estimated $13.4 billion in the state in 2006, up 7.6 percent from the previous year. The state has no income tax and relies heavily on sales taxes. In 2006, some $2.8 billion in sales taxes flowed into state and local coffers.

 Governor Phil Bredesen works the crowd at the Roundtable

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