Written by Matthew Maxey
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – A record 1.51 million visitors were welcomed to Williamson County in 2017, a 6 percent increase from 2016’s then record-breaking mark of 1.43 million visitors. This marks the third consecutive year that Williamson County has outpaced the national average for tourism growth, which in 2017 was only 2.6 percent across the nation.
“The unique charm of Franklin and all the communities of Williamson County continues to attract visitors from across the world,” said Visit Franklin President & CEO Ellie Westman Chin. “We work daily with our hospitality partners and local leaders to create a welcoming environment throughout the county that is both attractive to travelers and properly showcases the warm authenticity of our special community. As visitation numbers increase, positive economic activity will continue to support our local businesses and generate tax revenue for the entire county.”
Last year two new hotel properties opened in Williamson County in addition to the launch of several new tourism products, including the Masters & Makers Trail that connects the county’s distilleries, breweries, and winery. Additional contributions to the visitation increase include the largest Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival to date, along with steady increases in meetings and conventions booked in the county along with youth and amateur sports tournaments.
In 2017, Franklin and the communities of Williamson County gained notable national attention when they were named among the “Best Places to Travel,” by Matador Network, “Best Place to See Fall Foliage,” in Travel + Leisure, and among “Most Charming Southern Vacations in the US,” by TripAdvisor.
The outlook for visitation in 2018 is also encouraging. TripAdvisor named Franklin among it’s “30 Top USA Cities to Visit in 2018,” Reader’s Digest ranked Franklin No. 1 on its list of “Best Small Town Weekend Getaways You Need to Book ASAP,” and Southern Living has named Franklin among the “South’s Prettiest Towns,” and Leiper’s Fork in its compilation of the “17 Best Small Towns in the South for a Romantic Getaway.” Additionally, six hotel properties have opened or are scheduled to open in 2018, along with the addition of signature restaurants to Franklin’s iconic Main Street such as O’ Be Joyful and Biscuit Love and new signature destinations like 231 Public Square.
The visitor count was compiled by tourism and travel research company D.K. Shifflet & Associates. Additional economic impact and employment figures from tourism to Williamson County will be released by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development later this year.