“In 2022 we saw a 15% increase in visitor spending over 2021,” said Doug Young, Clay County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “This is the largest single-year increase in tourism spending that we have seen in Clay County’s history as well.”
Including indirect and induced impacts, tourism activity supported $9 million in business sales in Clay County. Visitors to the county spent $2.06 million in the transportation category, up 10% over 2021. There was an 18% increase in accommodations spending, bringing in a total of $1.82 million. Another $1.01 million was spent on food and beverage purchases by Clay County’s visitors, an increase of 13%.
Retail sales, which is a growing sector in Clay County, accounted for $0.44 million in spending revenue.
“In addition to this spending providing direct benefits to Clay County’s businesses, taxpayers reap tax benefits,” Young said, adding, “Visitors directly generated half a million dollars in state and local taxes, which is equivalent to $156 in tax savings for every household in the county.”
Young pointed out that tourism helps drive economic development and job growth, which helps restore and grow livelihoods for Clay Countians.
A total of $1.6 million was generated in labor income from tourism in 2022.
“Several projects have lent a hand to this success,” Young explained. “Not only has the Covid-19 situation lessened over the past two years, which reinvigorated tourist travel in general, the chamber has enhanced our tourism development efforts in this community.”
Young said that membership in the Clay County Chamber of Commerce has grown by 66%, the chamber has strengthened its working relationship with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and a number of grants have been awarded that have brought new opportunities.
“For example, we secured a grant to create a robust tourism website that focuses on local shopping, dining, lodging and special events as well as Dale Hollow Lake activities and businesses,” Young said, adding, “For the first time, the chamber’s tourism website now includes individual, searchable pages for more than 40 local businesses and attractions that serve tourists.”
The chamber has facilitated tourism leadership development by scheduling social media classes for businesses through the Biz Foundry and hosting destination marketing classes.
“We’re investing in advertising to entice visitors to Clay County, which is now represented in the national magazine, “Travel, Taste and Tour,” said Young. “Our ads are in a number of regional tabloids and guidebooks. We have TV ads on WCTE and radio ads on WVFB radio.
Young said the chamber is taking full advantage of free advertising offered by TDTD, including tnvacation.com, along with other platforms.
The chamber is fostering a whole new category of tourist – children and their parents.
“We have been actively involved with fishing tournaments and provided sponsorship of both a fishing club and horseback riding club for kids,” Young said.
Additionally, the number of events in the downtown retail district surrounding the Historic Clay County Courthouse has increased greatly, and with the opening of the Rolley Hole Museum in the courthouse and the performances planned for the courtroom-turned-theater, traffic to Celina is expected to grow.
As Tennessee’s number two industry, tourism generated a record $28.9 billion in domestic travel spending in 2022, marking the largest visitor spending nationally in Tennessee’s history.
“We are pleased that Clay County’s economic report reflects this trend,” Young said.
For more information about Clay County tourism, see visitclaycountytn.com.