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Tourism big industry here

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In 2009 the average rate paid per night for a local hotel room was $62. In 2010 that charge was increased to $65.

Tax revenue received from hotel stays increased from $697,421 in the 2008-09 year to $729,370 in 2009-10.

Rodriguez said the numbers show that it is a “sign of the times,” adding that a “recovery is slow but is happening.”

Although the ailing economy has not brought the best of news for tourism, the news, as Rodriguez points out, is not all bad either.

He said the economy has made people “spend smarter," and said they are in many cases looking for tourism values “closer to home.” Many, he said, are taking day trips and in doing so are finding places in Wilson County attractive to visit.

Based on data released by the state, the tourism industry in Wilson County caused almost a $100 million impact on the economy here in the most recent reporting period.

As Rodriguez says, the economic impact of travel on Wilson County is “quite significant.”

By the numbers, as reported by the State of Tennessee, the total economic impact of travel in Wilson County in 2009 (the latest reporting year) was $99,470,000. There are 920 travel related jobs locally; a $19,310,000 travel related payroll; and more than $3 million in travel related local tax receipts.

Rodriguez says people are coming to Wilson County for a number of reasons. He said the historic sites attract many as do local state parks, the Superspeedway and “of course the Wilson County Fair.”

He said Wilson County’s two state parks, Cedars of Lebanon and Long Hunter, each attract between 800,000 and 1 million visitors annually.

The Wilson County Fair, which year-in and year-out is ranked among the best in the nation, sees hundreds of thousands of visitors, and by Rodriguez’s estimation is the county’s number one tourist attraction.

Rodriguez details in his annual report how his department is finding ways to spread the news about Wilson County being a good place to visit.

He notes that there are a number of initiatives underway to expand the marketing reach of Wilson County tourism including print media advertisements in a number of cities outside the local area, social media resources, and certain marketing and public relations partnerships.

Rodriguez’s office this year has produced a visitors’ guide for Wilson County as well as niche market brochures to promote local Civil War interest, heritage tourism, and recreation.

Publisher and CEO Sam Hatcher may be contacted at shatcher@wilsonpost.com.

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