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Tourism in Tennessee for the Labor Day holiday is expected to increase over last year’s levels, according to a study released today by the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute.

Using travel spending data for September from previous years and factoring in gas prices and earlier starts to school, UT Tourism Institute Director Steve Morse projects tourism spending over the long Labor Day weekend will increase 8.9 percent statewide over 2006 levels.

“By tracking tourist-related spending trends in Tennessee on hotels, restaurants, transportation and entertainment, it is clear Tennessee has continued to be a growing vacation destination for families during the Labor Day holiday,” said Morse, an associate professor in the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Tourists traveling to Tennessee should see gas prices that are about 26 cents lower than Labor Day a year ago, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Morse attributed the rise in tourism spending to focused niche marketing efforts by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development the past two years that have been fueled by an increase of $4.5 million in funding from the state Legislature.

“I’m always thrilled to hear good news about Tennessee tourism. The Labor Day forecast from the University of Tennessee is yet another indication that the tourism industry in Tennessee is booming,” said Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

“The increased marketing budget has definitely enabled us to more effectively spread the word about our state and its world-class attractions, wonderful scenic beauty and great Southern hospitality. People love to come to Tennessee,” she said.

The Labor Day travel forecast is a first for the UT Tourism Institute. Morse studied data from the Tennessee Department of Revenue that tracked September spending levels for hotels, restaurants, transportation, entertainment and recreation and retail trade.

The Smoky Mountains area and the Tri-Cities area are expected to see the biggest increase for the 2007 Labor Day holiday at 11 percent, Morse predicted.

For Nashville, Morse expects Labor Day spending to increase 2.2 percent. Memphis will see spending up by 1.5 percent, and Knoxville will rise 9 percent. He says spending in Chattanooga will be up 7 percent.

The Tourism Institute is part of the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at UT. Morse is an economist who tracks business trends in the U.S. and Tennessee hotel, restaurant and tourism industry sectors.

To access the entire report, visit


Steve Morse, (865) 974-6249,

Elizabeth Davis, UT Media Relations, (865) 974-5179,

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