Visitors left $1.16 billion in the Chattanooga area in 2018, but tourism goals add up to more than dollars

But tourism goals add up to more than dollars

Barry White

The most powerful force for promoting Chattanooga as a tourist destination was gathered around dozens of tables at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Wednesday afternoon, said Barry White, the CEO and president of the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau.

One of the city's strengths as a travel destination is "positive resident sentiment," or the word-of-mouth power of people who love living in Chattanooga and love to talk about it, White said during the CVB's 2019 Chattanooga Tourism Summit.

"Our job is to recruit more visitors, and this is the most valuable form of marketing," he told the gathering of leaders from across industries.

Visitors to Chattanooga and Hamilton County dropped $1.16 billion during their travels in 2018, a record amount and an increase of 4.75% over 2017. The dollars are a good measure of success, but the number he's most interested in boosting is the number of people who visit the area, White said.