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CMA Fest, Taylor Swift generate millions in tourism spending

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a “Cruel Summer” for Nashville’s tourism economy.

Crowd sitting and standing on a grassy lawn in front of a large stage

Cheers to 50 years — CMA Fest celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. | Photo by NASHtoday

Nashville buzzed with stadium shows, major sporting events, and economic drivers like CMA Fest and Let Freedom Sing! this summer, turning up the volume on tourist spending to the tune of millions of dollars.

We can’t press rewind on the summer, but we can look back at spending estimates from the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

CMA Fest 2023

CMA Fest remains Nashville’s largest annual tourism event and produces the highest level of direct spending, according to the NCVC. This year, the country music festival generated $74.7 million dollars in direct visitor spending, an increase from the previous year.

  • 61% of visitors were first-timers
  • 9% of attendees traveled internationally
  • Each visiting party spent an average of $3,244
  • Hotel revenue increased by 7.4%
  • Top visitor states: Florida, New York, Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio

Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th

Nashville’s annual Fourth of July concert headlined by Brad Paisley brought in $11.6 million in direct visitor spending and attracted ~250,000 attendees.

  • 82.7% of attendees were visitors
  • 8% boost in hotel demand over last year
  • Air travel accounted for 40% of arrivals, while 60% drove
  • Top visitor states: New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia

Stadium tours

Taylor Swift’s “The Eras” tour hosted 212,000 attendees at Nissan Stadium, setting the attendance record each night and bringing in $2.2 million in hotel taxes. Weeks later, Ed Sheeran broke the attendance record with 73,874 packed inside the stadium on July 22. Other major concerts included Beyoncé and George Strait (two nights).

Major sporting events

Nashvillians didn’t have to tune in to the 2023 NHL Draft and Awards this year — Music City hosted the June event for the first time. It was the most viewed NHL Draft on record, averaging 681,000 viewers, according to ESPN. In July, SEC Media Days brought college football coaches and players to Nashville for four days of nationally televised events on ESPN and the SEC Network.