County holds growing share of the market in state tourism industry
By Pam Horne
With the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin just over a year away, Williamson County is poised for a surge of new tourism, though, by all accounts, the past two years have already produced a victory.
Tourism is Tennessee’s second largest industry and Williamson County has gained a growing share of the market each year for the last six years.
It is an industry that provides 2,790 jobs locally, according to Mark Shore, Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director.
Out of Tennessee’s 95 counties, Williamson finished in the number six spot in 2012.
This state data is calculated based on a calendar year, Shore said.
The economic impact report recently released by Commissioner Susan Whitaker, of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, indicates Williamson County tourism spending grew by 7.8 percent to $358.22 million.
Comparatively, Tennessee experienced a 5.2 percent increase in 2012, equating to $16.157 billion in visitor expenditures.
The Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the official destination marketing organization for the City of Franklin and Williamson County, operates from a set percentage of lodging taxes collected from the visitors each year.
“As of the end of July 2013, lodging tax collections for Williamson County are up $109,000 over the same period in 2012,” Shore said.
The WCCVB is charged with growing travel-related spending in the county by re-investing those dollars to promote the county’s tourism assets to leisure travelers, group tours and meetings and conferences.
“The Convention and Visitors Bureau staff and board is committed to growing Williamson County’s economy through tourism,” said Steve Smith, current WCCVB Board Chair and County Commissioner.
“We’ve moved this county from the number eight position in 2008 to a solid hold on the number six position for the past three years. The real benefit of tourism is what it does for our citizens. If not for visitor spending and the tax revenue generated, each Williamson County household would pay $424.16 more to make up the difference.”
Shore noted that traffic to the WCCVB center at 4th and Main Street is up 39 percent to date over the same period last year.
“This puts the visitor center on track to welcome nearly 30,000 visitors this year, In 2008 that number was 7,600,” Shore said.
The state report reveals that $7.25 million was generated for local government from visitor paid sales tax alone.
Williamson County has 33 hotels with almost 4,000 hotel rooms. In addition to visitors’ sales tax revenue, hotels collected $3.37 million in lodging taxes for Williamson County, while Franklin pulled in an additional $2.25 million and Brentwood $1.12 million in 2012.
“Visitor spending helps the bottom line of every household in our county. The CVB uses research based strategic marketing to obtain the best Return on Investment: more visitors, staying longer, spending more money.” Shore explained.
While Williamson County came in sixth place in the state, neighboring counties also faired well with Rutherford in ninth, Montgomery in eleventh, and Wilson and Sumner counties at fourteenth and fifteenth, respectively.
Posted on: 9/26/2013