Tenn. 11th most visited state
East Tennessee attractions dominated the industry last year, according to a list of the most attended attractions compiled by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Sevier County’s Dollywood topped the list once again, amassing three-times as many visitors as nearly any other contender. According to the list, approximately 2.4 million people visited Dollywood in 2004.
Number two and number four on the list are also Sevier County attractions. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg received 1.6 million visitors last year and Ober Gatlinburg saw more than 865,000 patrons push through its turnstiles.
In all, these three Sevier County attractions accounted for over 45 percent of attendees, among the top ten attractions in the state.
Overall, tourism in Tennessee increased by 890,000 visitors over 2003, said Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in a press release. Also, Whitaker said that Tennessee moved up from the 12th to the 11th most visited state in the country.
However, while Dollywood saw an increase this year, both Ripley’s Aquarium and Ober Gatlinburg saw slight decreases in attendance.
The tourism industry has a significant impact on Tennessee employing more than 175,000 people across the state and contributing $10.8 billion in total economic impact, according the state tourism department.
Also in the top ten are: the Bristol Motor Speedway (1.145 million), the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga (856,000), Golf & Games Family Park of Memphis (826,000), the Memphis Zoo (810,291), Casey Jones Village of Jackson (770,000), Grand Ole Opry House & Opry Museum (662,495) and the Chattanooga Choo Choo (592,360).
Other East Tennessee attractions in the top 50: the Gatlinburg Sky Lift (487,454), the Knoxville Zoological Park (396,345), Dolly’s Splash Country (325,000), the Louise Mandrell Theater (290,000), the Lost Sea in Sweetwater (180,000), the Museum of Appalachia in Norris (150,000), Boys Mountain Park and Planetarium in Kingsport (155,436) and the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge (133,700).