Chattanooga Tourism Company Reacts to Out of State Residents Receiving Vouchers

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Tourism is Tennessee’s second largest industry and 2020 hit the Volunteer State hard.

“Last year was devastating,” says Chattanooga Tourism Company President and CEO Barry White. “We felt it very hard and the largest cities in the state were hit the hardest.”

2020 came after a record-breaking year for travel to Chattanooga.

“We’re looking back at 2019 which was our banner year,” says White.

But the future of tourism is looking bright, in fact, unexpectedly so.

“We’ve had a few weekends that outpaced 2019. It’s very exciting. It’s roaring back faster than we anticipated,” says White.

To invigorate this important industry for Tennessee, Governor Lee is offering $250 airline travel vouchers to 10,000 out of state travelers.

There’s push back.

And from high up within the state GOP. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally spoke out against the campaign, saying the money should stay with Tennessee tax payers and not go to out-of-state residents.

But Chattanooga Tourism Company officials explain how the money can make a difference here.

“Anytime that a visitor comes in, they bring new money,” White says. “Hopefully they have a great time. They bring new money and they’re spending it at our local businesses and they’re spending it on retail and they’re spending it on entertainment and attractions and that supports us both economically and socially because they’re supporting jobs and businesses here in town.”

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