For the past five years the number of visitors to Nashville has been on the rise and 2018 is showing signs of topping 2017’s record 14.5 million numbers, which was a 4.6 increase from 2016’s record 13.9 million visitors,
According to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, the growth is attributed to an uptick in leisure travelers and a stronger than expected second half of the year, which included the solar eclipse in August, several Garth Brooks concerts in December and a fall calendar filled with weekend events, festivals and football games.
“Our visitor numbers were surprisingly stronger than the 2 percent to 3 percent growth we had initially forecasted,” said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “Our appeal as a global leisure and meetings destination continues at a high level, and we can thank Mayor Megan Barry, along with the hotels, restaurants, attractions and our other hospitality industry partners, enough for their part in the city’s success. When visitors come, they spend money, and that generates economic activity for local businesses and tax revenue for the city.”
In 2017, CVENT ranked Nashville seventh among the Top 50 meeting destinations in the United States, and several travel outlets, including Frommers, named Music City a top place to visit. Already, more than a dozen outlets, including Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveller U.K. and TripAdvisor, have named Nashville a top place to go in 2018.
Last year, nine new hotel properties opened, including 21c Museum Hotel, Kimpton Aertson, Noelle and Holston House. Also, 113 bars and restaurants opened in the city, along with attractions, including the Patsy Cline Museum, Madame Tussauds Nashville and Topgolf.
Fifteen new hotel properties are scheduled to open this year, giving Nashville a total of 2,800 rooms. One hundred seven restaurants and bars have announced they will open, in addition to the eight that opened since the start of the year. Factor in, British Airways’ nonstop flight to London that begins May 4, 17 booked citywide conventions, a strong concert schedule and new attractions slated to open.
Visitors attending The Eagle’ concert next month, Justin Timberlake’s and U2’s May events and August bringing in Keith Urban, Def Leppard/ Journey and Taylor Swift will boost direct visitor spending.
New attractions that are opened or will open include Whiskey Row, Ole Red, Merle Haggard Museum, SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland, Nashville Shores’ Aqua Park, Pins Mechanical Co. and a new Tennessee State Museum.
Whether visitors fly into Nashville International Airport — the fastest growing airport in North America — or drive, their presence also contributes to jobs, additional state and local taxes and worker paychecks.
According to Convention officials, the visitor count number includes both overnight and day visitors who have traveled more than 50 miles. The number covers the Nashville MSA.