According to the recently released economic impact data from U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, only 15 of the 95 Tennessee counties experienced an increase in travel spending in 2020. DeKalb County was one of those counties with a 3.7% increase and another record-breaking number of visitors.
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams says she was hopeful that DeKalb’s abundant outdoor activities would keep visitors coming even with the 2020 pandemic and was thrilled and relieved to receive the good news from the Governor’s office.
Tennessee tourism generated $16.8 billion in domestic and international travel spending in 2020, a 31.6 percent decline from the previous year. Travel in Tennessee generated nearly 150,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue. Despite the impact of COVID-19, efforts to promote outdoor travel opportunities helped Tennessee outperform the national average decline of 42 percent.
“Tourism is a vital part of our state’s strong economic recovery,” said Gov. Lee. “By working together to support small businesses and drive job growth, we will ensure Tennessee continues to be one of the top travel destinations in the world.”
“Tennessee’s scenic beauty, strong outdoor assets and compelling rural and road trip destinations gave it an edge against other states,” said Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Department of Tourist Development. “We’ve seen parts of our state not only survive, but also thrive.”
Edgar Evins State Park reported a record-breaking number of visitors in 2020 as did the paddle craft industry. Suzanne Williams commented, “So, even though COVID prevented us from having an in-person 2020 Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and many local businesses having to close for an extended time, DeKalb County is so blessed to have areas like Center Hill Lake, the Caney Fork River, and Edgar Evins State Park where people could visit, social distance, and feel safe. Whether folks were looking for a place to relax, hike, fish, kayak, or any other water sport, DeKalb County was able to meet traveling needs with our beautiful natural resources.”