Thats how much tourism brought to the table in Washington County in 2008, according to Dr. Steven Morse, director and economist at the tourism institute at the University of Tennessee.
That means that Washington County is now No. 10 in the state for tourism revenue.
History, culture and beauty wrap the county in an enticing package. Thats the hook that brings our visitors here the first time. We are what brings them back again and again.
At Tuesday nights Honors Convocation at East Tennessee State University, Dr. Andrew Czuchry, professor and AFG chair, reflected on the impact of what might be referred to as Southern charm.
As he addressed the soon-to-be graduates, Czuchrys fatherly pride was apparent as he described his son, Matt Czuchry, who plays Harvard graduate and young attorney, Cary, opposite Juliana Margulies on The Good Wife.
We went to visit him on the set in Los Angeles and the people he works with complimented him to us. They said he is a true Southern gentleman, Czuchry said.
Southern charm is highly underrated. It is something we all have – in varying degrees – and it should be used in abundance. It is a warmth of expression, an amusing turn of a phrase, and a courtesy-driven, people-first attitude.
In short, its how we make people feel welcome when they visit. Its Sunday manners every day. Its just being nice.
And of course, this isnt all sweetness and light.
Keeping our visitors happy means staying busy and staying busy means the power stays on, the employees keep their jobs, and we can pay our rent.
Even though every now and then youll run into a customer who is a real stinker, most of the time some of that Southern nice will win them over.
And youve got to admit, busy is good, no matter what. Its tough at times, but in the hurry of a business day, sometimes we forget who we are.
Were Washington County. Were Jonesborough. Were Johnson City. We are the impression our guests take back home with them. And if were lucky and really charming theyll return, time and time again.
Aw, go on. Say yall come back and really mean it.
Dont know if you want to be that nice? There are $197 million reasons why you should be.