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Why you should go to Knoxville

(Image courtesy of Visit Knoxville)

As the world continues to reopen as we "hopefully" approach the end of the pandemic, I look forward to traveling to Knoxville, TN one day. Knoxville is a city nestled in the mountain where art, music, and nature permeate daily life. I had the opportunity to talk with Kristen Combs ,Director of Communications & Social Strategies with Visit Knoxville, to learn more about everyone should visit this city.

(Image courtesy of Visit Knoxville)

Why should someone visit Knoxville?

Knoxville, Tennessee is a nature-loving-adventure-seeking-artsy-kinda town. First-time visitors are typically amazed by all the city has to offer. In this one, unique location, mountains meet music… art meets adventure… culture meets cuisine… and no one meets a stranger. The pure walkability of downtown allows people to explore and discover vibrant murals, local music, historic sites, art museums, parks, greenways and more. With its sophisticated mix of culture and cuisine, visitors can experience a destination served up with genuine hospitality.

(Image courtesy of Conde Nast. Image is taken by GETTY. You can see this image at )

How has Knoxville adapted in the face of COVID-19?

Tourism grinded to a halt in the beginning of the pandemic, but Knoxville managed to adapt. Residents supported local restaurants and attractions, and the phased reopening was a success as we saw visitation on the rise with travelers looking to find a safe destination. With a focus on the area’s incredible outdoors, mask wearing and social distancing, Knoxville found its tourism industry rebounding quicker than other cities in the state of Tennessee.

(Image courtesy of Amanda Luhn. Image depicts River Trail at Ijams Nature Center. You can learn more about this photograph and nature center at )

What are the top sites anyone should see in Knoxville?

Knoxville is not a one-size-fits-all destination; it truly depends on a visitor’s individual interest. For outdoors lovers, exploring Ijams Nature Center, Navitat, and the Urban Wilderness is a must. Those interested in arts and culture will want to see a show at the Tennessee Theatre or Bijou Theatre, view current exhibits at the Knoxville Museum of Art, or even plan their visit around a cultural festival. History buffs will find no end to discoveries of the past with a visit to the East Tennessee History Center, the Farragut Museum, and seven Historic Homes ranging from a log fort to a Victorian mansion. Other major attractions include Zoo Knoxville, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Sunsphere – the iconic structure of the 1982 World’s Fair Park hosted in Knoxville.

(Image courtesy of Bijou Theatre. You can learn more about Bijou Theatre at )

How has Knoxville shifted its efforts during the pandemic?

Major shifts were made in marketing and selling Knoxville as a destination throughout the pandemic. For convention sales, most efforts were focused not on canceling, but on shifting meetings and events to future years. For marketing, campaigns were developed to encourage visitors to be inspired, learn about local safety measures, and plan for future travel.

(Image courtesy of

What is the future of tourism in Knoxville?

The future of tourism in Knoxville is bright! We are currently seeing an increase in visitation. In 2020 at this time, travel was almost at a stand-still. April occupancy was up over 200% from last April, and up 2% over April 2019. Room demand this April is up 4.1% over April 2019. Year-to-date occupancy from January – April is up 26.2% over the same period last year. For this YTD vs last YTD (January – May 18): For the top 20 states, all but one showed an increase in visitation and many of which were double digits.

(Image Courtesy of Visit Knoxville. Image depicts Greetings from Knoxville Postcard Mural. See where this mural is located at )

Thank you, Kristen, for teaching me more about Knoxville. I encourage anyone visiting Knoxville the nature-loving-adventure-seeking-artsy-kinda-town.


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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