Music City’s summer tourism season kicked off with two major events — CMA Fest and Let Freedom Sing! — that pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, according to a news release. CMA Fest helped push the number of hotel room nights sold in June to a record level for the city.
CMA Fest was held June 9-12 and generated $65.2 million in estimated direct visitor spending, bouncing back with modest growth from the last time it was held in 2019, when direct visitor spending was $64.9 million.
“We’ve said it before, but it truly takes a village to produce CMA Fest," Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, said in the release. “We are so grateful to work alongside all of our incredible city partners to make the event a success year after year. Our attendees certainly come to CMA Fest to experience four jam-packed days of country music, but we know a significant number use the festival as a chance to visit Nashville. We look forward to next year’s event when we celebrate our 50th anniversary of CMA Fest!”
CMA Fest helped June become the best month ever in Nashville history in the number of hotel room nights sold — 875,407 — reflecting strong recovery during the seasonal peak tourism month for the city. That figure is up 20% year over year and 11% ahead of 2019 levels.
June 2022 now stands as the single month with the most room nights ever sold in Davidson County to date. The previous record was May 2022 with 869,439 room nights.
The city’s Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th event generated $11 million in estimated direct visitor spending. That is down from last year’s $14.7 million but was expected by organizers with the holiday falling on a Monday and the spotty weather forecast. As previously reported, an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 attended the free downtown concert and fireworks show.
“Major events like these are critical to sustaining our success and filling the unprecedented number of new hotel rooms opening in our city,” Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, said in the release. “Nashville ranks second in the country in the construction of hotel rooms as a share of inventory, so we can’t take our eye off the ball and must continue to create demand for the city.”
Both CMA Fest and Let Freedom Sing! were featured on national television, promoting Music City to households across the country. ABC broadcast a three-hour “CMA Fest” special on Aug. 3, and both CMT and CNN covered Let Freedom Sing!
CMA Fest 2022
CMA Fest remains Nashville’s largest annual tourism event and produces the highest level of direct visitor spending of any annual tourism event held in Nashville. CMA Fest also helped push BNA total passengers in June 2022 to a record level at 1,832,410. The previous record of total passengers had been May 2022 at 1,808,835.
Other highlights from the NCVC’s CMA Fest survey results include the following:
• Out-of-town visitors: 83%
• First-time attendees: 52%
• Likely to attend next year: 96%
• Average length of stay: 5.1 nights
• Average party size: 3.2 people
• Top six states: Florida, New York, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and California
• International visitors: 4.2%
• Accommodations: 74% chose hotels; 14% chose short-term home rentals
Let Freedom Sing! 2022
The July 4 celebration continues to be well-attended by local Nashvillians, with 21% of attendees estimated to be local and 79% being out-of-town visitors. International visitors returned to the event, comprising 7% of those surveyed, with the large majority originating from Canada.
The return of the Family Fun Zone helped improve the family demographic, with slightly more than one-third of those surveyed (36%) indicating having children as part of their travel party. Some 41% of those surveyed came to Nashville specifically to attend the event, and another 40% who were surveyed said they came to Nashville on vacation, which speaks to the city’s strength as a leisure destination.
Other highlights from the NCVC’s Let Freedom Sing! survey results include the following:
• First-time attendees: 84%
• Likely to recommend to others for next year (scale of 1-10): 9.5
• Average length of stay: 3.8 nights
• Average party size: 3.8 people
• Visitor travel method: Drive, 58%; Fly, 42%
• Top six states: New York, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Alabama and Pennsylvania
• Accommodations: 71% chose hotels; 13% chose short-term home rentals