All Eyes on Tennessee
A new tourism campaign and exciting attractions are helping the Volunteer State draw in more visitors than ever before.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development announced last year that it had broken records in 2014: An all-time high of 101.3 million visitors spent $17.7 billion. And things haven’t slowed down since, thanks in part to the state’s recent “Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee” tourism campaign that has achieved great results. The campaign puts Tennessee front and center as a global music destination of choice.
In addition to the thriving music scene, exciting developments and attractions are drawing in ever more vacationers. Three destinations in particular are benefitting from this upswing in travelers and their dollars.
Visitors flock to Music City to see their favorite country-and-western stars at the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. Just recently, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum more than doubled in size, with a 210,000-square-foot expansion. Since the expansion the venue broke admission records by welcoming more than a million guests last year. The Grammy Museum opened at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in April. The interactive exhibit space is designed to appeal to all ages and allows guests to explore the creative process of making music. Nashville also has an innovative restaurant and creative scene in hip neighborhoods such as the Gulch and East Nashville.
Some 200 miles east of Nashville, Pigeon Forge is home to Tennessee’s most visited commercial attraction, the Dollywood theme park. Thrill seekers will soon have a new reason to check out the park when Lightning Rod, both the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster and the first launching wooden coaster, opens later this year.
In addition to the new coaster, a brand-new six-stadium youth baseball complex and a special exhibition at the Titanic Museum Attraction, featuring one of the first-ever public displays of bandmaster Wallace Hartley’s RMS Titanic violin, are expected to draw thousands more to Pigeon Forge.
TripAdvisor recently named Gatlinburg the No. 1 Destination on the Rise in the U.S. and No. 4 in the world. With the town’s variety of accommodations, its easy walkability among restaurants, antique shops and craft shops and its standing as gateway to the most visited national park in the U.S., Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s no wonder that this Appalachian Mountain town appeals to so many.
In celebrating the National Park Service centennial, Tennessee is challenging visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to hike 100 miles of trails in 2016. Even if those on a short vacation to Gatlinburg can’t conquer the challenge, everyone is encouraged to experience the park’s breathtaking views and wildlife during the milestone year.
Photo credit: Nashville PR