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West Tennessee Tourism Up

By midowu@wbbjtv.com
By Modupe Idowu

Officials say tourism is up in Tennessee and while big cities like Memphis and Nashville draw in plenty of revenue with music attractions and theme parks, tourism in West Tennessee is holding its own ground and helping its economy.

According to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, 19,771 visitors toured Haywood County in 2010. That number jumped to 20, 531 in 2011. So far this year's visitor number is at a little more than 9,300. In 2011 during the dame time just more than 8,500 visitors had stopped by. The center has had visitors from 38 countries and all 50 states.

7 Eyewitness News spoke with one family who traveled more than 700 miles to see what life is like in West Tennessee. Daniel Behrens traveled nine hours from Wichita, Kansas to visit the Delta Heritage Center and attractions in Haywood County

"We went down to the bottom to see the wild life. We saw wild turkeys and owl in the road, some amazing wild life not commonly found in Kansas," said Behrens.

Officials are ecstatic because more people means more money. Director of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center Sonia Outlaw-Clark said, "While they're doing that they are spending money they are getting gas, getting food. They're shopping at some of our nice niche shops on our court square, and their having a direct impact.

According to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, in 2011 tourists spent nearly $13 million in Haywood County. In fact, tourists from all 50 states and 38 different countries have toured at the Center and at other attractions in Haywood County.

"They are going Haywood Co Museum. They're going to the National Wildlife Refuge," said Outlaw-Clark.

"We drove by Tina Turner's home in Nutbush," said Behrens.

Officials hope interest in the rural life style of some West Tennesseans will continue to draw in revenue for Haywood County.