Asheville and Knoxville see tourism gains as visitors escape to the outdoors

Choosing Knoxville as the next location for Asheville-based Hi-Wire Brewing felt comfortable and familiar, co-owner Adam Charnack said. 

The craft beer brand will open up a taproom in South Knoxville in May. 

“It’s sort of like escaping your own city, trying something different but it also feels comfortable and familiar," he said.

He credited the emphasis on the outdoors, walkability, the redeveloping South Knoxville neighborhood and Knoxville's beer culture as some of those similarities.  

Both cities have seen positive tourism indicators in the past few years. 

The Knoxville brand

What attracted Hi-Wire to Knoxville is part of what's been a decade-long tourism evolution for the city, said Visit Knoxville president Kim Bumpas. 

The revitalization of Market Square, the emergence of the Urban Wilderness and South Knoxville, the evolving marketing strategy of Visit Knoxville and the city's growing reputation as a food scene are all contributing factors.  

“We’re on the map now as a premiere getaway destination,” she said. 

Visit Knoxville's new partnership with research firm Longwoods International will help it collect more aggressive tourism data. According to its first round of data, Knoxville had 6.3 million overnight guests in 2017. 

Knoxville produced more than $1 billion in travel-generated spending in 2017, according to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development . 

Knoxville tourists describe the city as walkable, outdoorsy, with a great food scene, ample breweries and a local-first downtown, Bumpas said. 

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