By mtjulietintern

Wilson County tourism director Amy Nichols said the recent uptake in hotels, as well as tourism, in the county is a result of growth and the area’s proximity to Nashville.

With Fairfield Inn and Suites opening in April, My Place opening in December and more hotels scheduled to come, Nichols said it’s all part of the process of making Wilson County a more attractive place for tourists who may come to the area to visit Nashville.

“Nashville is just booming when it comes to tourism, so we’re obviously seeing the impacts here,” said Nichols. “Our whole strategy is that we want to build on that growth. We don’t want to ignore the fact that people are here because of Nashville.”

Nichols explained tourism only serves to benefit the county. When tourists come to Wilson County, they stay in Wilson County hotels, eat at Wilson County restaurants and shop in Wilson County shops, then they leave, and the county and local businesses benefit from the money spent here.

“That’s how we can put [the money] back into the schools,” said Nichols. “That’s money we don’t have to build infrastructure for, because these people are coming, they’re visiting and then they’re leaving, and that’s money we can then put into our police force, into our district. So that’s why it’s so important.”

According to Nichols, Wilson County has a unique opportunity to benefit from Nashville’s growth because of the proximity, as well as the dissimilarities between the two areas.

“Our whole thing is saying, ‘yeah, go to Nashville,’” said Nichols. “We want people to come, experience Nashville, Music City, honkytonks, etc. But, when you are vacationing in Tennessee, when you have that idea in your head, if you’re from Florida, if you’re from California, whatever, you’ve never been to Tennessee, so you book a trip to Nashville, but in your head there’s some imagery of Tennessee that Nashville doesn’t accomplish. You think of the country; you think of horseback riding; you think of being out on the lakes. You go to Nashville, and you’re in a city just like any other city. I want tourists to go to Nashville and experience it, but then I want to tack on to your vacation a few nights so that you can stay in Wilson County, because we offer those experiences in your head that are Tennessee.”

Nichols said she expects the growth to continue, in part, because of the Wilson County Expo Center and the events it offers.

“I mean, they’re booked for years,” said Nichols. “We have groups that come in and they want a tour, and they’re like, ‘is this date available?’ and it’s booked out. I feel like we haven’t seen the impact yet because it’s so new, because you book so far in advance. All of the people I’ve met with now are groups for 2019, so there’s definitely a gap between when you get something and when you start seeing the return.”

To people who don’t like or fear the growth Wilson County is experiencing, Nichols said the growth is already here, and it’s up to us whether we’ll adapt so it best benefits the city or just let it overwhelm us.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com