As the 19th Annual Destination Imagination Global Finals descend on Knoxville, so do nearly 17,000 people from around the world, who will drive $25 million back into the local economy over an event that spans just four-days.
“I’m a former mayor, and I know the boost to the economy is very significant. And I’m really happy to see people working and having opportunities to be able to work and maybe have a better life for their families because we’re here and we benefit as well,” said Michele Tuck-Ponder, Destination Imagination’s interim CEO.
“Thousands of people are streaming in today from all over the world. Through the airports, the highways, we’re hearing about people who are flying and closer and are excited to get here,” said Pamela Schroeder who serves on the board of trustees with Destination Imagination.
Nearly 9,000 of those are some of the smartest kids in the world, representing 17 countries and more than 38 states will show off their talents in everything from robotics to space travel.
“I think every restaurant in town knows when it’s DI week because they see all the influx of the kids and the teams,” says Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas.
When they’re not busy becoming the next generation of innovators and leaders in fields like science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, those roughly 9,000 of the smartest kids in the world are out with their friends and families who’ve made the journey to support them, while enjoying East Tennessee.
“Knoxville is cool because it’s big enough to have a lot of interesting things to do; art museums, great food, entertainment, but it’s small enough that it’s manageable and they don’t come here and feel totally overwhelmed,” says Tuck-Ponder.
“I mean, talk about putting Knoxville on the map I mean you’re kinda showing our destination to the whole world and that’s what’s so exciting,” said Bumpas.