Tourism doesn't just bring more people to the area; it brings more money.
"Tourism means jobs; tourism means economic development," says Susan Whitaker, Commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. She says for the past six years, Tennessee raised $1 billion from sales tax revenue.
Mayors from surrounding counties are confident that a new video series called "Day Trippin" – highlighting areas in rural West Tennessee – will bring in more tourists and those coveted tourist dollars. Lee Johnston with the Covington-Tipton Chamber of Commerce is so confident, he says it will triple tourism.
Fayette County Mayor Rhea "Skip" Taylor says, "If we don't tell folks that we have things out there they won't ever know. These are not things that have just showed up overnight."
According to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Tennessee has more than $15 billion in direct expenditures for tourism. Whitaker adds, "$3 billion, over $3 billion of that comes just from Shelby County alone. That's because there's an understanding of how important tourism is to economic development."
The department says it's culture and heritage that attracts people to these quick trips that gets them to stay longer and spend more.
"We want more visitors; we want them staying and spending more," says Whitaker, "That's how it happens; you add an additional day, additional two days to someone's trip, you are just mushrooming what kind of expenditure they're going to make."
Whitaker says people are drawn to places with culture and heritage, and that West Tennessee definitely offers that.
"We all take pride in what we have. This is a good way for us to kick it off in a grand way to promote the beauty of West Tennessee and all that it has to offer, and it's only a day trip," says Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
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