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Tourists spend $142.3 million in Sumner

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Barry Young

Local residents already know that Sumner County is the 'it' place to be and now the area's attractiveness to tourists has helped boost even more expenditures and sales tax.

According to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, visitors to Sumner County in 2016 spent a total of $142.3 million - a more than 5 percent increase over 2015. Those expenditures generated more than $9 million in state sales tax revenues and a more than $3 million in sales tax revenues that remained in the county.

Barry Young, director of Sumner County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said that's good news, but things are still going to get better.

"We are thrilled with the numbers for 2016 and of course - that (5.2 percent) is one of the highest increases in the state," Young said. "In 2016 we still had 10 hotels and now we have 12 hotels with another couple on the way. I feel like our visitor spending will continue to go up because we will be able to accommodate more people."

Young said the study, released just last week by the state, takes five things into consideration when ranking tourist spending in each Tennessee county - hotel occupancy, dining (restaurants), attractions, retail shopping and transportation (gas, car repairs).

What's Young's goal in next five years as director of tourism?

"When I came here five years ago, we were ranked 16th out of 95 counties as far as tourist spending," he said. "We became the 15th and now we are the 14th.

"I'd like for us to make the top 10 (in the state list) - that's in our sights now. It gives us something to work for and with these new hotels coming, I really feel like we've got a good shot. The eclipse is really going to help us. I think 2017 will break the 2016 record."

Along with the push to bring more visitors into the county, Young said it's a combined effort of everyone to make sure they come back.

"It's really about the visitor's experience," he said. "The comments we have received about the eclipse events were great and we feel like they will come back."

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