KINGSPORT — Sports tourism continues to be a strong revenue generator for the businesses and hotels of the Model City, with Kingsport hosting 26 events this year with an estimated economic impact of more than $25 million.
The events range from youth athletics (such as AAU, USSSA and USA Swimming), collegiate events (NAIA) and professional sports (Kingsport Mets). Officials with the Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau said next year will be even stronger with 25 to 30 events in the works, generating $30 million of economic impact.
KCVB officials offered this message to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday, giving a rundown of the programs and departments they oversee, the number of events and bookings held in Kingsport during the past year and what's in store for 2017.
According to Jud Teague, executive director of the KCVB, the bureau assisted with hosting 39 meetings and conventions in Kingsport during 2016, generating more than 10,000 room nights in local hotels and resulting in an economic impact of $9.9 million.
Next year, Teague said the KCVB has secured 18 meetings, generating 6,000 room nights and a projected impact of $6.2 million for the community. The meetings take place at MeadowView, the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Kingsport Center for Higher Education.
Frank Lett, the senior associate executive director of the KCVB, said close to 100 games have been held at Hunter Wright Stadium alone this year, including 33 Kingsport Mets home games. In a given year, the Mets spend roughly $350,000 in our community, Lett said.
This year, the KCVB donated $24,000 in proceeds to Kingsport City Schools' athletic programs and is on course to put the total amount donated since 1989 well past $1 million, Lett said.
Overall, the KCVB estimates its efforts have an economic impact of $34.9 million in 2016 and a projected impact of $36 million next year. If it were not for state and local taxes generated by tourism in Sullivan County, each household would pay $446 more in taxes each year, the KCVB estimates.
To get the message out about all of the offerings Kingsport has, the KCVB employs a variety of marketing strategies, including print, online, social media, television and radio and one-on-one interactions. Most TV ads are placed in Knoxville and western North Carolina, where Teague said the KCVB gets the most bang for its buck.
And if KCVB officials are able to lure clients to Kingsport for one-on-one meetings, the closure rate for a deal stands at about 90 percent.
“This group does a great job of leveraging so many of our assets the city has invested in. Small businesses need to understand ... this $25 to $30 million a year is extra revenue they don't have to worry about attracting customers to their facilities,” Mayor John Clark said. “These folks come in from out of town, spend a lot of money, and it's what Kingsport does to help small businesses flourish and succeed.”