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Records: Tennessee spent $11K on influencers for airfare promo

downtown nashville
Posted at 4:35 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 08:20:07-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee paid thousands of dollars for social media influencers to promote a contentious new initiative that uses $2.5 million in taxpayer dollars to offer flight vouchers largely to out-of-state residents.

According to documents obtained through a public records request, the Department of Tourist Development paid an estimated $11,000 to at least 11 local influencers to post on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok touting the new program. Emails show the state had originally budgeted $30,000 for influencers.

To date, the state has spent more than $230,000 out of its $270,000 tourism marketing budget to advertise the program online.

Republican leaders and Democratic lawmakers have both questioned why tax dollars are being spent on tourists’ airfare.