The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development joins tourism industry partners to celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week May 7-13 by marking another year of record-setting growth for the state’s $18.4 billion tourism industry.
According to the latest research from DK SHIFFLET, 110 million people visited a Tennessee destination in 2016, a 4.4 percent year-over-year increase, making Tennessee one of the Top 10 states for domestic travel in the United States for the third consecutive year.
Approx. 80 percent (88.4 million) of Tennessee visitors are leisure travelers, an increase of 5.1 percent compared to 2015. This increase of leisure travelers can be attributed to overnight stays, which grew by 5.2 percent.
To celebrate the week, special tourism fairs are being held at the state’s 14 Welcome Centers, with industry representatives meeting and greeting visitors with Tennessee hospitality, Made in Tennessee gifts and opportunities to win prizes. Additionally, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development staff and tourism industry partners will offer guests free windshield washings to help them “See Tennessee More Clearly.”
Statewide, local visitor bureaus and independent travel organizations celebrate the week with parades and special awards luncheons, shining a spotlight on the nation’s $2.3 trillion tourism industry and encouraging Americans to make the most of their leisure time by taking a vacation.
According to a study released last year by Project: Time Off, Americans in 2015 left more than 658 million vacation days unused, with half of the nation’s workers foregoing some of their vacation time. Nearly a third of these unused vacation days are truly lost—meaning workers were not able to roll vacation time into the next year or receive other compensation for the time.
“Quality of life goes beyond having things available to do; it is taking advantage of that and doing it,” said Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “It is staggering when looking at the number of vacation days people work hard to earn and then do not use. The Department and the tens of thousands of Tennesseans in the tourism industry are invested in making a vacation as easy and pleasurable as possible. Our goal this National Travel & Tourism Week is to provide visitors with a taste of Tennessee’s world-class hospitality and thank them for supporting one of the state’s top industries.”
As an example of strategies the Department is taking to make planning a Tennessee vacation easier than ever, Triplett points to the recent launch of the state’s revamped website,TNVacation.com. The site provides a unique trip-planning feature, which enables users to build click-and-save itinerary maps, featured stories, images and travel ideas delivered in a platform personalized to each web visitor’s interests. This new, customized feature helps TNVacation.com visitors turn inspiration into real-time vacation planning.
“We continue to tap into cutting-edge technology to make planning a trip to Tennessee simple and convenient,” Triplett said. “We know once guests arrive, they are treated to one-of-a-kind experiences and Southern hospitality to keep them coming back year after year and help ensure that no vacation days go unused.”
Established by a Congressional resolution in 1983, U.S. Travel’s National Travel & Tourism Week serves to champion the power of the travel industry. Travel and tourism professionals from across the nation work throughout the week to promote the impactful contributions their travel markets and organizations make to the U.S. economy.
U.S. Travel this week released a video starring Travel Channel host Samantha Brown called “Faces of Travel,” which features four of the more than 15 million Americans who earn a living in the travel and tourism industry, placing a human face on an industry that contributes $2.3 trillion annually to the nation’s economy.