Knoxville’s tourism business continues to grow


Experts said Knoxville was among the top 5 booking markets for 2021 alongside cities like Atlanta, Nashville and New York.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Many people in Knoxville may remember a time when it was barely a point on the map. But now the city is gaining national attention as one of the hottest places to visit.

Experts have ranked the city among the top 5 reservation markets in the United States, alongside cities like Nashville, Atlanta and New York. As more and more people stop by The Scruffy City, they are also generating income for the area’s tourism industry.

“We have just come out of two months of the highest hotel and motel tax collections we have ever had as a community,” said Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville.

He said more people have stopped in Knoxville to attend events and festivals. Officials also said tourism generated more than $ 1 billion in spending in 2020. Compared to the previous year, Knoxville also saw a 40% increase in the number of people booking hotels.

The growth comes after a particularly frightening time for the travel industry.

“At the start of 2020, how was business – there was no business,” said Ken Knight, general manager of the Crown Plaza hotel in downtown Knoxville. “Now a lot of companies don’t have people traveling yet, but the weekends are extremely busy.”

Some people stop for nature parks, while others are eager to attend an event in the city. Others say they have family nearby and just want to see them again after staying away during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re just thrilled that everything is reopening and that we can stay here,” said Melissa Papell, who said she was in Knoxville celebrating her daughter’s birthday while studying at UT. “We usually stay here, even when we come on weekends.”

While the weeks can still be a bit slow compared to weekends, business leaders also said that the difference between last year and this is significant.

“It’s day and night,” Knight said. “Business is probably back to about 80% of what it was before the pandemic.”

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