Tourist Spot

Dollywood is pumping big money into the TN economy

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Standing out as a hotbed for tourists almost year-round, Dollywood is seeing big numbers this year and pumping big money into the state’s economy.

Nashville and Memphis are the two cities that generate the most tax revenue for Tennessee.

Behind them is Sevier County – the childhood home of Dolly Parton, and now, Dollywood.

“People want to get in the car and go somewhere where they can be outside, they can do something new,” said Ellen Liston, public relations manager for Dollywood. “People come, have a great experience, it’s good value for money. Then they tell their friends who come with them next time.

Dollywood attracts around 3 million visitors a year, making it the state’s most popular tourist attraction.

According to a case study by TDOT, the theme park has an economic impact of $1.8 billion.

“It’s a place that can keep my kids entertained all day, but it’s not so far that it takes us forever to get there,” said Sarah Short of Cookeville.

Dollywood employs around 4,000 people and is a hotspot for summer jobs.

Addison Birkmire is one of their performers – singing, dancing and acting alongside a cast of other hopeful stars.

“You can’t really put it into words sometimes. Just the feeling that it’s awesome doing something you love and are passionate about and getting money in the bank at the same time,” Birkmire said.

Thirty-seven seasons ago, it may not have been clear if Dolly’s dream of a theme park in her hometown would come true.

But by the numbers, those doubts are all but memories as Dollywood has established itself year after year as one of the most reliable sources of income in the state.

“If you’re from a neighboring state, you don’t have to travel far to have a world-class experience,” Liston said. Whether you come here to Dollywood or go anywhere else in Tennessee, it’s great for all of us.

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