Local tourism puts money in our pockets

Published 10:09 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Tennessee reached a tourism milestone in 2017.
For the first time ever, visitors to Tennessee spent over $20 billion, leaving an economic footprint felt throughout the state — from Mountain City to Memphis.
In announcing the record-breaking figures, Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam said nearly $2 billion in local and state sales tax was collected, something Tennessee relies heavily on since there’s no state income tax.
“When all those folks visit, they don’t only get to see Tennessee, but it helps us have money to pay teachers more and deal with opioid addiction, and all the other things we want to do as a state,” said Haslam.
For the 12th consecutive year, tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.8 billion. That marks a 7.6 percent increase over 2016, higher than the national growth of travel-related state tax revenues of 4.6 percent.
Carter County’s share of that was $39.47 million which equated to a payroll of $6.26 million.
With attractions like the Grand Ole Opry, Graceland and various professional sports teams, the tourism industry is a large part of the economy in Tennessee. Visitors to Tennessee have a bevy of activities from which they can choose. They include hiking, fishing, visiting amusement parks, watching a football game or taking in a concert.
Tennessee has more than 50 state parks spread throughout the state. Many of the state parks are located in heavily wooded areas that feature hiking trails, fishing areas, and camping facilities such as Roan Mountain State Park. Many of the state parks in Tennessee feature cabins and lodges. Some of these cabins close in November and re-open in early April. Other cabins close for a couple of weeks during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and re-open in early January.
Carter County is also home to Watauga Lake, which is a popular destination for boating and swimming. Also, it is home to Doe and Watauga River, excellent rivers for fishing.
Carter County is home also to Sycamore Shoals State Park, which each July features the outdoor drama, “Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals.”
The record-breaking numbers validate that visitors to our state and community enjoyed the many attractions and outdoor activities that are offered here. Whether here for several days, a quick meal while heading to another location, visitors appreciate the warm welcome they receive in Elizabethton and Carter County as well as across the state.
We have so much to offer visitors to our community, we just need to promote what we have more. In addition to our parks and rivers, we have the Tweetsie Trail, a portion of the Appalachian Trail, which runs through the county, Cherokee National Forest campsites, and a historic downtown. Among the new attractions are the BBQ, Blues & Brews Festival, which will be held Sept. 15 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Covered Bridge Park to benefit the historic Bonnie Kate Theater. A new event taking place Oct. 13-14 is the inaugural Betsy Crafts & Drafts Festival, a two-day event at the Joe O’Brien Field, which will feature a multitude of craft vendors, music, and the opportunity to sample some craft beer from across the region.
Other attractions that bring visitors to the downtown include the Carter County Car Club car show every Saturday evening in the downtown from April through October, and the Elizabethton Twins, which this week are playing for a back-to-back league title.
There’s so much to do, so much to see, and so many foods to try while visiting in Carter County. The one thing we are lacking is a nice motel for visitors. We hope our city and county leaders can put their heads together and make that a successful venture.
When you see a visitor to our city and county, make them welcome and thank them for coming. It’s money in all of our pockets!

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox