Tennessee tourism looking to rebound, trouble finding workers could make things difficult

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NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) – Before the COVID-19 pandemic Tennessee generated billions in economic impact from tourism.

Now, the industry that was badly hit is facing a resurgence with more people wanting to get out and travel.

Department of Tourist and Development Commissioner, Mark Ezell, said visitor spending in Tennessee before the pandemic was over $24 billion dollars.

But early last year… the industry was forced to a halt.

A loss of tens of thousands of jobs according to the Department of Tourist Development.


READ: Tennessee works to get back to record-high tourism numbers

Some Tennessee tourists said their motivation for coming here ranged from road tripping to folks who wanted to take advantage of the more relaxed COVID-19 guidelines.

“Definitely relaxed COVID guidelines helped… yeah we feel like it’s normal now,” Lori Loomis a Rhode Island tourist said.

Justin Rhoades, a tourist from Illinois said, “We’re from Illinois. They’ve got a lot stricter guidelines up there so… we get tired of it.”


READ: COVID-19 and tourism: Where can U.S. citizens travel?

Officials at the Tourism Department said people are already booking conventions, travel and hotels to come to Tennessee. In fact, Commissioner Ezell said in April, Tennessee visitor participation was back to pre-pandemic levels of January 2020.

But the concerns remain regarding getting people back to work to do the tourism and hospitality jobs that account for a large portion of the state’s budget.

“What we know we need to do is to make sure we got a workforce that is out there and ready to help us, because the people want to travel. And this summer especially, we look for middle Tennessee to just explode with travelers and tourist but we need to make sure we have the people there prepare to help those businesses,” Ezell Said.

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