By Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A new report says Tennessee saw $23 billion in travel spending last year, again setting a new record.

The state Department of Tourist Development says the recently released 2019 numbers from the U.S. Travel Association also show a record 126 million domestic stays in Tennessee, up from 119 million the previous year.

The numbers reflect the industry’s growth before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tennessee’s tourism department says the report predicts the state’s travel economy could see a 35% to 45% decline in 2020.

“I’ve seen colleagues and friends lose their jobs, businesses and attractions closed and hotels sit empty,” Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Mark Izell said at a news conference Tuesday. “But now, with our businesses taking the Tennessee Pledge, our restaurants and attractions are ready to safety welcome travelers.”

The state department has received $25 million in federal coronavirus stimulus money to remarket Tennessee tourism due to the damage done by the pandemic.

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