KNOXVILLE, TENN. (WATE)– Visit Knoxville just released its first-quarter highlights and tourism dashboard for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

These numbers help bring in new business and events to Knoxville.

It’s no surprise that local Knoxville Businesses have suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. in 2020 and the beginning of 2021 many businesses had to close their doors or follow strict guidelines.

Now as restrictions have loosened and more events are coming back to Knoxville, those businesses that suffered are now bouncing back.

The return of both conventions and sporting events like the U.S.A. Cycling event has allowed Knoxville to not only beat some of last year’s numbers but also 2019s.

Knoxville is now seeing the results of everyone getting back out and about after being cooped up for over a year due to COVID-19.

“It’s very easy to say that 2021 compared to 2020 is phenomenally different, right,” asked Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville? “So you’ll show anywhere from a 60% increase over last year on a bad day to a 250% increase over 2020 on a good day. So I think what’s really relevant and what’s more relevant is comparing 2021 to 2019 and on any given day we are beating 2019 numbers.”

According to Visit Knoxville’s Tourism Dashboard, more than 1.5 million hotel rooms were booked from January through September 2021.

Bumpas said, “We started doing youth sports events and then it was feeding into meetings and conventions and really I think we can see the results right now because that on top of leisure travel we have really bounced back.”

She said, events like U.S.A Cycling, sporting events, conventions, and fishing tournaments have contributed to travel-generated spending surpassing $1 Billion in the first quarter of the fiscal year.

These are the numbers that appeal to new businesses like Rockey Fizz on Market Square.

Rocket Fizz employee Charice Keener said, “having a city that has a lot of people who come visit and then just the people that live here on any weekend when there’s a farmers market, you know, there’s a lot of people down here. So, it just kind of makes it a fun place to go.”

The new candy shop features candy and drinks from the 1920s until now. They’re known for their unique sodas and their quirky items.

Rocket Fizz has been open for a little over a month now and has been staying busy.

“We’ve been doing great,” said Keener. “We’ve been received well by the community.”

Kim Bumpas with Visit Knoxville said it’s important to share these numbers so they can target future Knoxville businesses.

“People want to go places where they can walk around, eat on the patio, do outdoor adventures. Knoxville was 100 percent perfect for that.”

One event that has contributed to some of those numbers is the four-part “Sunsphere Sundays” concert series that took place at World’s Fair Park in October.

A portion of all sales benefited the Sunsphere Fund which will help with renovations of the iconic Knoxville staple.

The Sunsphere was originally closed due to the pandemic but stayed closed due to renovations. As far as when it will be reopened, Visit Knoxville said it will release more information about that soon.