In 2017, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development designated Lakeland as an Adventure Tourism District. This designation allows qualified new businesses in the district to earn job tax credits to offset a portion of the businesses’ Tennessee franchise and excise tax liability.
Qualified businesses include restaurants, hotels, or other tourist-related attractions. The certification must be renewed every three years.
According to Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development Department (TNECD), “Adventure tourism is an industry gaining popularity throughout the world, and it is only fitting that Tennessee’s abundance of natural resources would lend the ideal setting to support this segment of the tourism industry. In addition to the business-friendly advantages our state offers, we are proud to showcase Tennessee’s innate geographical strengths in a way that will help generate job opportunities in rural areas of the state.”
“We are pleased to be involved with a program that should bring more jobs in a growing industry to our state,” Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts said.
The Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011 defines adventure tourism as outdoor recreational opportunities such as equine and motorized trail riding, white water rafting and kayaking, rappelling, road biking, rock climbing, hang-gliding, spelunking, shooting sports, mountain biking, canoeing, paragliding, zip lining and other such tourist and recreational activities.
In Tennessee, the U.S. Travel Association reported that domestic and international travel accounted for a direct spend of $15.3 billion in 2011 with estimated federal, state and local tax receipts of $2.5 billion. Outdoor recreation in Tennessee is particularly strong, generating $8.2 billion annually in direct consumer spending, sustaining 83,000 direct jobs and generating $535 million in state and local tax revenue.