Tennessee on Me is a new program set up by the state to boost tourism by paying for people to visit.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the plans over the weekend and said that they were planning to buy plane tickets for up to 10,000 visitors who book to stay in some of its largest cities.
He wrote on Twitter: "Tennessee is known around the world for its music, scenic beauty & iconic attractions, and I'm excited to team up with @BradPaisley to promote @TNVacation. 10k airline vouchers are up for grabs when travelers book a trip to Tennessee."
"The state's buying all these airline tickets and giving them away to anybody who books two nights in a hotel room to come to Tennessee, so it's 'Tennessee on me,'" Lee continued in a video posted to Twitter alongside country star Brad Paisley. "Tennessee on Gov. Lee," Paisley added.
Tennessee is known around the world for its music, scenic beauty & iconic attractions, and I'm excited to team up with @BradPaisley to promote @TNVacation. 10k airline vouchers are up for grabs when travelers book a trip to Tennessee. Learn more at https://t.co/gTUps7pffx. https://t.co/Gfdw5dG8tT
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) July 4, 2021
Yet despite the seemingly amazing opportunity, some of the locals don't agree with the move...
"You seem enthusiastic about tourism in Tennessee. Serious question: How do you expect your recent cutback of unemployment benefits to affect Tennessee hospitality workers who rely on unemployment income from household members to make ends meet?" one Twitter user wrote.
While another commented: "More people might visit Tennessee if our vaccination rate wasn't one of the lowest in the country. Maybe you should have spent this money on a vaccine lottery. But, hey, I'm sure the hotel owners will donate big $ to your campaign. Priorities, right? #comegetcovidinTN"
To qualify for a flight voucher, your flight must land in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, or Nashville, and you must fly with airlines (American, Delta, or Southwest). Reservations must also be made through the Visit Music City website with travel dates from July 11th to the end of 2021.
Those who want to take part in the free flight voucher must also book a stay at one of the sixty participating hotels within the program. However, this must also include an overnight stay at the hotel on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
The packages must be paid in full and the voucher is only redeemable for 1 package, not per person, meaning you'll only receive 1 flight voucher no matter how many people you travel with.
Amanda Murphy, a spokesperson for the state's tourism department, told the Tennessean that the aim is to welcome more tourists to the area, after lacking over the last year due to the pandemic.
"While much of the state is seeing pre-pandemic or higher levels of hotel occupancy, challenges remain in our big cities who still feel the loss of conventions, business, and international travel," Murphy said.
However, local lawmakers have recently hit back regarding the $2.5 million in funds the program was given. Sen. Bo Watson, chairman of the Senate finance committee, clarified that the money isn't coming directly from Lee.
"The people of Tennessee are inviting you to come to Tennessee, not the governor," Watson told the Tennessean. "This is not the governor's money, this is taxpayers' money."
Will you be paying a visit to Tennessee any time soon?