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Williamson County sees record number of visitors in 2018

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Main Street Festival

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County’s 36th Annual Main Street Festival, Presented by First Tennessee Bank, drew thousands to downtown Franklin on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28, 2018. 

A record 1.72 million visitors were welcomed to Williamson County in 2018, a 13.6% increase from the 1.51 million visitors in 2017. 

This marks an increase of 500,000 additional annual visitors to Williamson County since 2014 and marks the fourth consecutive year the county has outpaced the national average for tourism growth, which in 2018 was only 1.9% across the nation. 

“The appeal of Franklin and all the communities of Williamson County continues to attract visitors from across the world because of the incredible people, places and stories that call this community home,” Visit Franklin President and CEO Ellie Westman Chin said. “We work daily with our incredible hospitality partners and local leaders who together create an environment that is welcoming to travelers and showcases the charms we as residents love so much.”

In 2018, the 244-room Hilton Franklin opened in Williamson County, bringing the total number of available hotel rooms in the county to 5,198, in addition to the opening of several new tourism products. 

Additional contributions to the visitation increase include several new events and festivals choosing to call Franklin and Williamson County home, a steady increase in meetings and conventions booked in the county and amateur sports tournaments. 

“When we refreshed the Visit Franklin brand last year, we were also able to greatly increase our targeted digital advertising efforts across the country to both leisure travelers and meeting and event planners,” Westman Chin said. “Those efforts and continued mentions in national and regional media outlets have also contributed to our increase in visitation, which in turn means positive economic activity will continue to support our local businesses and generate additional tax revenue for the entire county.”

In 2018, Franklin and the communities of Williamson County gained notable national attention when they were named among “The 25 Coolest Towns in America” by Matador Network, “The South’s Prettiest Towns” by Southern Living and Franklin’s Main Street was part of Architectural Digest’s “30 Most Beautiful Main Streets Across America.”

The outlook for visitation in 2019 is also encouraging, as Mic.com has named Franklin among its “Best Places to Travel in 2019.” 

Signature restaurants The Grilled Cheeserie and Ruby Sunshine have opened along Franklin's iconic Main Street recently to great fanfare. Additionally, eight hotel properties have opened or are scheduled to open in 2019, including The Harpeth Hotel in downtown Franklin. Together, the new hotel properties will add an additional 1,000 rooms to the county in 2019.

The visitor count was compiled by tourism and travel research company D.K. Shifflet & Associates. Additional economic impact and employment figures from tourism to Williamson County will be released by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development later this year.

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