Leisure travel and sports team push hotel booking to record high in Chattanooga

But business travel still lags behind pre-pandemic levels

September 20, 2022 at 9:00 p.m.

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Visitors visit the Tennessee Aquarium on Friday, July 1, 2022.

Leisure travelers and youth sports teams hit the road again last year after largely staying home during the early months of the pandemic in 2020, pushing hotel stays up in County Hamilton at an all-time high in 2021.

After tourism spending in Hamilton County jumped 40% from 2020 to 2021, industry leaders said Tuesday they expect an even better year for tourism this year.

“2021 has been a great year for Chattanooga’s tourism industry,” Chattanooga Tourism Co. President Barry White said at the group’s annual meeting at the Chattanooga Trade Center. “On average, more than 15,000 people per night stayed at our hotels last year, and those guests generated the highest total hotel revenue in our history.”

White and other executives said travel spending in Chattanooga is expected to be even higher this year, having already pushed employment in the local hospitality industry in Chattanooga to an all-time high of more than 31,000 people this summer.

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