Experts predict record tourism in Nashville this summer, slower recovery for business conventions

Downtown Nashville 2021.jpeg
Posted at 12:35 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 13:35:25-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's beginning to look a lot like Music City again as pandemic restrictions are lifted and crowds return downtown.

Rob Mortensen, who is the head of the trade group Hospitality TN, which tracks the industry across the state, predicts record numbers of tourists returning to Nashville this summer. However, he said there's one very important group that may be slower to return.

"We need the business tourists, business conventions to come back. That's about 40% of our business in Tennessee, or in Nashville," Mortensen said. "To fill those rooms we need folks to say 'you know what, we're gonna have conventions again.'"

But Mortensen says those conventions may be a bit smaller and scaled-back, at least in the short term. That's because many big businesses may be reassessing their budgets.

"You've got folks sitting in a room in those corporate offices thinking, 'you know we used to spend a million dollars in conventions, we kinda did it last year a little bit without spending those dollars. Can we keep doing that? Is there something that we can do that maybe, you know, some of the same stuff not all the same stuff?' So I think you're gonna see some of that, I really do."

Mortensen says it will take time for hotels, restaurants and bars to fully rebound, but he believes Nashville will be ready no matter what. Thousands of new hotel rooms will open in the next few years, with more projects being announced almost every week.