The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that applications are now available for communities seeking to become certified as adventure tourism districts pursuant to the Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011. The act allows certain tourism-related businesses within adventure tourism districts to qualify for a jobs tax credit.
“Adventure tourism is an industry gaining popularity throughout the world, and it is only fitting that Tennessee’s abundance of natural resources would lend the ideal setting to support this segment of the tourism industry,” TNECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. “In addition to the business-friendly advantages our state offers, we are proud to showcase Tennessee’s innate geographical strengths in a way that will help generate job opportunities in rural areas of the state.”
“We are pleased to be involved with a program that should bring more jobs in a growing industry to our state,” Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts said.
“The Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act establishes a plan to promote outdoor recreational opportunities statewide, particularly in those rural counties with high unemployment. The Act authorizes a local-state partnership which will promote our beautiful state and create needed jobs,” Senator Ken Yager said.
In a bill sponsored by Senator Yager, the Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011 defines Adventure Tourism as outdoor recreational opportunities such as equine and motorized trail riding, white water rafting and kayaking, rappelling, road biking, rock climbing, hang-gliding, spelunking, shooting sports, mountain biking, canoeing, paragliding, zip lining and other such tourist and recreational activities.
All interested local governments must submit their completed applications to TNECD by April 15. Applications and additional information can be found at http://www.tn.gov/ecd/AdventureTourism.shtml, including a guidance document for local governments.
Approved applications will receive certification for a period of three years. Upon expiration of the three year period, local governments must submit a new application for certification.
In Tennessee, the U.S. Travel Association reported that domestic and international travel accounted for a direct spend of $15.3 billion in 2011 with estimated federal, state and local tax receipts of $2.5 billion. Outdoor recreation in Tennessee is particularly strong, generating $8.2 billion annually in direct consumer spending, sustaining 83,000 direct jobs and generating $535 million in state and local tax revenue.