Visitor spending in Williamson County tops $1 billion

A few storefronts as they walk down Main Street in downtown Franklin, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Visit Franklin.

Visitor spending generated $1.04 billion in direct economic impact on Williamson County in 2021, according to recently released data from the US Travel Association and Tourism Economics. This is a 34% increase over the previous year and on par with 2018 economic impact levels. According to data from DK Shifflet, the county welcomed 1.73 million visitors in 2021 , an increase of 40.5% over 2020. These visitors were spending $2.86 million per day in Williamson County.

The positive growth in economic impact and visitation marks a return to year-over-year growth in the impact of tourism on the county. Prior to the COVID-induced downturn in 2020, the tourism industry had increased its positive economic impact on Williamson County for 10 consecutive years.

Williamson County remained ranked No. 6 of Tennessee’s 95 counties based on economic impact from tourism and was one of six counties in the state to create a positive impact of more than $1 billion. dollars.

“While our industry was still feeling the effects of COVID on travel at the start of 2021, it is encouraging to see the progress our local hotels and hospitality-related businesses are making towards rebounding,” said Maureen Haley Thornton, President and CEO of Visit Franklin. “These final 2021 numbers show that once people were comfortable traveling, Franklin and Williamson County communities are where they wanted to be.”

Tourism-related spending generated $55.31 million in the state and $34.7 million in local tax revenue in Williamson County. Due to tourism, every household in Williamson County pays $1,111 less in state and local taxes. The county’s hospitality industry also accounted for 7,540 jobs.

Within the hospitality industry, hotels and lodging saw the most significant economic impact recovery, jumping 70% from 2021. Leisure spending increased 38%, retail spending visitors increased by 21%, transport increased by 20% and food and beverages had an economic impact. 31% increase compared to 2021.

The Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Franklin) operates from a portion of local lodging taxes from hotels and vacation rentals collected from visitors. These collections are then reinvested in sales and marketing efforts to bring people to Williamson County for leisure travel and sports, meetings and group business. In 2021, every dollar invested in Visit Franklin’s efforts resulted in a positive economic impact of $387 on the county. This figure is up from $312 in 2020.

Despite the lingering effects of COVID on the hospitality and tourism industry in early 2021, local industry growth was boosted by the opening of three more hotels during the year and new iconic venues like the FirstBank Amphitheatre. The outlook for 2022 is also one of continued growth, as four new hotels have already opened in the county this year, along with the upcoming opening of Southall Farm & Inn.

Thornton added: “Throughout 2021, our hotels have seen a large number of leisure travelers which, in addition to the gradual return of business travellers, meetings, conventions and events, has contributed to the recovery of our county. This return to travel is also continuing at an optimistic pace in 2022. With new hotels and venues opening in 2021 and already this year, as well as those opening soon, tourism in our county is poised to continue having increased positive economic impact on Williamson County.

The majority of funds raised each year through the Lodging Tax are distributed to participating cities for use in capital projects aimed at improving tourism that also benefit residents, such as improving parks, and contribute to the Williamson County General Fund, where they help offset expenses. county schools, emergency services, road projects, etc.

Economic impact information is determined by the US Travel Association and Tourism Economics and distributed by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. The values ​​represent the direct impact of spending, labor income, employment, and taxes on domestic and international travel.

ABOUT VISIT FRANKLIN Visit Franklin is the public brand of the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Visit Franklin is the official destination marketing organization for Franklin and the unique communities of Williamson County, Tennessee. Visit Franklin drives economic growth by promoting travel and tourism assets such as history, music, attractions, entertainment, arts and events to visitors around the world. For more information about Franklin and Williamson County, visit us on the web at

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