- Advertisement -
Home Opinion Editorial: Proposed tourism cuts will impact rural Tennessee

Editorial: Proposed tourism cuts will impact rural Tennessee

In his amended budget proposal last week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam moved to slash an additional $2 million from the state’s tourism advertising budget, after already suggesting an initial cut of $2 million.

The proposal, if approved by the General Assembly, will reduce the money Tennessee spends on tourism advertising by half — from $8 million annually to $4 million.

Tourism is consistently billed as Tennessee’s No. 1 industry. In fact, in a letter from the state’s Department of Tourism last October, it was stated, “As our state’s No. 1 non-agricultural industry, tourism is essential to our economic success . . .”

Nowhere is that statement more evident that in rural communities reeling from the downturn in the U.S. manufacturing industry. Increasingly, those rural communities — like Scott, Fentress and Pickett counties — are turning to their scenic beauty and natural resources to supplement their local economies and cushion the blow of lost jobs in other industrial sectors.

Dollar-for-dollar, the governor’s proposal will have its greatest impact on the state’s richest tourism areas — Sevier County, Chattanooga, and similar areas.

However, the Sevier County cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville collectively spent $18 million on tourism-related advertising last year alone. Those areas have much deeper coffers than rural areas like Scott, Fentress and Pickett counties, which rely heavily on the state’s help to market the Big South Fork and Dale Hollow Lake to out-of-state tourists.

In Scott County, for instance, tourism planners count it a success that a couple of recent events have helped raise a few thousand dollars to “splurge” for new tourism brochures. It’s a far cry from the millions the city of Gatlinburg spends to market itself and the neighboring Smokies in print and digital media across the nation. Any way you slice it, the governor’s proposal will have a disproportionate negative impact on rural areas with fledgling tourism markets.

It has been said that for every dollar the state spends on tourism advertising, $19 in revenue is generated. Assuming these numbers are accurate, Tennessee is — in effect — willing to axe $76 million in revenue for businesses, and the associated tax dollars generated from that revenue, to cut $4 million from the budget . . . $4 million that will come from the state’s No. 1 non-agricultural industry.

- Story Continues Below -

Join our mailing list

Get headlines delivered directly to your inbox with the Inside Scott Newsletter.

We will not sell or spam your email address.

Politics are seldom easy to figure out, but this is a real head-scratcher.

Poll: Should Tennessee reduce its tourism advertising budget?

- Advertisement -
IH Staff
Contact the Independent Herald at newsroom@ihoneida.com. Follow us on Twitter, @indherald.
- Advertisement -

Stay Connected


Join our mailing list

We will not sell or spam your email address.

The Latest

TN Dept. of Health reports a 12th case of coronavirus in Scott County

The TN Dept. of Health on Friday reported a 12th case of the virus in Scott County — the first new case here since...

Wet weather pattern will soon be history

Friday dawned with yet another threat of scattered rain showers and thunderstorms, as an upper level low pressure system that has been stationed over...

Bandy Creek, Station Camp campgrounds reopening

BANDY CREEK — The National Park Service announced Friday that Bandy Creek Campground and Station Creek Campground in the Big South Fork National River...

Related Stories

Editorial: Isn’t it time for Tennessee to stop requiring self-quarantine while test results are awaited?

You no longer have to be sick to get tested for novel coronavirus in Tennessee. Well ahead of the national curve on testing for Covid-19...

Editorial: Gov. Lee, our barbershops and salons must reopen now!

As of Friday in Scott County, you will be able to go to the grocery, have your oil changed, browse for new furniture, sit...

Editorial: These students have sacrificed enough. Take summer school, extended school year off the table.

Summer school? Extended school days? Extended school year? Those are options that the Tennessee Department of Education is floating as ways to make up "missed...

Editorial: With personal liberty comes personal responsibility

Let's not beat about the bush: We aren't doing enough to combat the spread of coronavirus. You don't have to venture outside Scott County to...

Opinion: Gov. Andy Beshear should worry about Kentucky while Gov. Bill Lee worries about Tennessee

"We're all in this together." It has been a common refrain across America as the coronavirus has spread, forcing millions out of work and essentially...
- Advertisement -