Plan Unveiled To Increase Williamson Co. Tourism 50%

Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 14, 2016

Last year was a record-setting year for Williamson County tourism, with 1.3 million visitors, but a lofty new goal from the visitors bureau expects that number to grow to 2 million by 2020.

That's a more than 50 percent increase from what the County saw last year.

On Main St. in Franklin, Savory Spice Shop is used to a crowd. The shop has a local following but also relies on tourists like Karen Eisenhart, in town Friday for a concert in Nashville.

"I'm a nurse and there was a patient in San Diego who is from here who said 'if you're going to Nashville you should check out Franklin!,'" she said.

That's exactly what Williamson County wants to see more of.

"It is a very ambitious plan," acknowleged Visit Franklin CEO Ellie Chin.

With Nashville's exploding popularity, the Visitor's Bureau is working to persuade hundreds of thousands more people to spend a night or two in Franklin while they're here.

"We get people in all the time to hear our great music with Music City Roots, they may come to a play that Studio 10 is producing, they come down to learn about our history," Chin said, listing what attracts people to Franklin.

The idea behind the Tourism 2020 plan is to get Franklin's name out there and also to bring more events to town.

"We were actually at a conference earlier this week just to promote Franklin, Tennessee to different sport tournaments," Chin said.

She says they are studying whether the current fields and courts are sufficient or if the county needs more to attract leagues.

And they say they're not competing with Nashville.

"Franklin is cool I would come back," Eisenhart said.

They're just offering their own local flavor.

"I would love for us to see an increase in visitors," Rollins said from her shop, "a lot of people when they visit our town they decide to move here."

The Visitor's Bureau says it isn't worried about parking, with two free garages and street parking downtown. Currently 1,600 hotel rooms are under construction.

Tourism brought $411 million dollars to the County last year. The Visitor's Bureau says that's a tax savings of more than $480 per household.