KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tourism in Blount County is growing according to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. The county was ranked eighth out of 95 counties in in visitor expenditures in 2022 with $544 million, up 14% from $477 million in 2021 according to the Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties report by the TDTD.

According to the report, visitor spending in Blount County generated $51.7 million in state and local tax revenue, which means each household in the county saw $987 in annual tax savings. This is nearly $300 higher than the $700 in 2021. The county attributes a large part of this growth to the county being a gateway to the Smoky Mountains.

“It is great to see the tourism industry continue to grow all across this state and in particular here in Blount County where we saw the highest visitor expenditures in history,” said Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority Director Kim Mitchell. “With the leisure and hospitality industry being the third largest employer in the state, it’s vital that we continue to market our area which is robust with outdoor activities, numerous dining and lodging options.”

Employment from tourism in the county also reached an all-time high of 4,668. According to a release from the county, this also led to an all-time high payroll of $200.2 million.

Overall, tourism in Tennessee generated $29 billion in domestic and international travel spending, up 19% from 2021. 2022 also marked the largest visitor spending nationally in Tennessee’s history. The release said that travelers in Tennessee spent an estimated $79 million per day.

“Tourism drives a strong economy, creates jobs and builds a better quality of life for all Tennesseans,” said Gov. Lee. “We continue to welcome visitors to see all Tennessee has to offer, from the Mississippi River to the Great Smoky Mountains.”

“Tennessee is thriving as tourism continues to soar, from our large cities to small towns,” said Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “Our industry’s hard work is paying off with record levels of visitor spending and significantly outpacing inflation. It is our privilege to showcase these numbers and express our gratitude to our partners, attractions, elected leaders and visitors who made a record year for Tennessee.”

Davidson County topped all county indices with $9.9 billion in tourism economic impact, followed by Shelby, Sevier, Knox, and Hamilton Counties.

The Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties report comes just a month after a report from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which found visitors spent $2.1 billion in nearby communities in 2022.