Dollywood pushing big bucks into TN economy


Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:59 PM CDT
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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Standing out as a hotbed for tourists nearly all year round, Dollywood is seeing big numbers this year and pushing big bucks into the state’s economy.

Nashville and Memphis are the two cities that raise 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 outdoors, they can do something new,” Dollywood’s public relations manager Ellen Liston said. “People come, have a great experience, it’s a good value. Then they tell their friends who come with them the next time.”

Dollywood pulls about 3 million visitors annually, 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 somewhere that can entertain my kids all day long, but it’s not so far away that it’s taking us forever to get there,” Sarah Short from Cookeville said.

Dollywood employs about 4,000 people and is a hot spot for summer jobs.

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

“You can’t really put it into words sometimes. Just the feeling of how awesome it is to do something you love and you’re passionate about and also get some money in the bank at the same time,” Birkmire said.

Thirty-seven seasons ago, it may have been unclear if Dolly’s dream of a theme park in her hometown would make it.

But by the numbers, those doubts are now just memories as Dollywood has stood year after year as one of the state’s most reliable money-makers.

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

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