Doe Mountain has received the honor of being named the latest Adventure Tourism District in Tennessee. In a letter announcing approval of the district, Commissioner Mark Ezell of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development wrote, “Adventure tourism is an industry gaining popularity throughout the world, and it is only fitting that Tennessee’s abundance of natural resources would lend the ideal setting to support this segment of the tourism industry. In addition to the business-friendly advantages our state offers, we are proud to showcase Tennessee’s innate geographical strengths in a way that will help generate job opportunities throughout the state.”
The new Adventure Tourism District is centered on the Doe Mountain Recreation Area and encompassing the entire area bordered by State Highways 67, 167, and US Highway 421.
The designation became effective on January 6, 2020. Qualified businesses locating in the district earn a jobs tax credit to offset a portion of the business’ Tennessee franchise and excise tax liability. Qualified businesses may include restaurants, hotels, or other tourism-related attractions, making a capital investment of at least $500,000 and creating ten full-time jobs with certain minimum health benefits. Under the statute, two part-time jobs may equal one full-time position.
Commissioner Ezell’s approval of the Adventure Tourism District is the realization of several years of local efforts pushing for the designation. Never entirely forgotten, the matter took on renewed life when Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor reached out to Campbell County officials and other tourism leaders across Tennessee for their input on growing tourism during 2018 and 2019.
With the County Commissioners joining in making it a community priority, a successful application followed. “This is a big win for the residents of Johnson County and will stimulate visitor interest in the area’s numerous natural attractions,” said Daniel Reese, Chair of the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority.
Noting recent progress, Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association Executive Director Alicia Phelps observed, “Numbers are on the rise in the Johnson County area, with visitors spending more than $10 Million in 2018. Outdoor recreation is one of the top reasons folks visit our area, and Doe Mountain Recreation Area is among the top destinations when it comes to exploring our mountains with off-highway vehicles and hiking.” That’s a sentiment shared by Kayla Carter, Outdoor Development Manager for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. Ms. Carter reacted to the news by saying, “I’m glad to see the state supporting the outdoor recreation economy of one of the most amazing mountain towns in Northeast Tennessee. With this designation, the state is acknowledging the tremendous opportunity for growing the outdoor recreation economy in our region. Doe Mountain Recreation Area is a great catalyst for that to happen.”
It is hoped that the business incentives available in the new Adventure Tourism District will advance economic development in Johnson County by providing yet another green light for significant investments looking to capitalize on growing tourist traffic across the region.