It seems unfathomable now, but there was a time when some city government, business and hospitality leaders engaged in serious debate about whether country music should be the centerpiece of Nashville’s tourism strategy.
As recently as the 1990s, a fear hung over Nashville that country music was for a “certain” crowd that might not best represent a cosmopolitan city on the rise.
Those days are long gone.
In 2015 the CMA Music Festival set records for direct visitor spending, while also reaching new highs in other crucial hospitality benchmarks: average daily rate and hotel room demand.
Couple that with last year’s direct visitor spending of $60.4 million and average per-visitor spending of $900 and CMA Fest has become the staple tourism event in Nashville.
And the event’s impact has grown. When it began, CMA Fest, then called Fan Fair, was a more isolated event at the downtown Municipal Auditorium and then the state fairgrounds.
The festival has official events across town and brings benefits to businesses across Davidson County.
“I think it was essential in hindsight to Nashville’s growth to have all the creative segments of the city come together to help build the new Nashville, with a focus on tourism that has helped (grow sales tax revenue) for ...