The turmoil in Knoxville’s tourism and convention agency for the last year may have been a factor in Chattanooga slipping past Knoxville to claim fourth place in tourism spending—but it could have been worse. Chattanooga had a 10 percent increase to Knoxville’s 8 percent increase.
The top three counties in the state are Davidson (Nashville), Shelby (Memphis), and Sevier County. Knox County had long been number four on the list.
But some Knoxville hotels also raised rates last year, so there may have been fewer people but tax collections remained strong.
The newly constituted Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking at a plan to add codes to hotel registrations in order to drill down for information on what attractions are successful—and who should get the credit. This sort of information is routine in Sevier County—annotations on whether visitors came to visit Dollywood or some other attraction.
Knoxville may eventually have hard data on the impact of Boomsday, the Rossini Festival, or a Vol football game. How many of these events result in overnight stays, or do people in the region come and then go home?
Tourism officials say they did not see any overt evidence of groups avoiding Knoxville during the period when former director Gloria Ray was fired and the tourism contract was under review by county government, but are determined that the Chattanooga lead will be “short-lived.”