Lawmakers in Tennessee have introduced the Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011 to encourage the development of adventure tourism in the rural counties suffering high unemployment.

Amendments offered on the bill would allow local outfitters to petition local officials to create special adventure tourism districts that could offer tax credits of $4,500 a year for each qualified job. Adventure tourism businesses could use that credit for up to three years to offset state franchise and excise taxes.

Amendments would also indemnify adventure tourism professionals against claims for injury, damage or death resulting from adventure tourism activities as long as they collected the appropriate liability waivers and posted signs on their property stating that Under Tennessee Law, an adventure tourism professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in adventure tourism activities eesulting from the inherent risks of such activities.

The bill directs the states department of tourist development, in cooperation with the department of environment and conservation and the department of economic and community development, to study and develop a plan for the promotion and development of adventure tourism and other recreational and economic development activities in rural areas of this state, according to a summary of the bill on the Tennessee General Assembly website.


The plan must identify those areas of the state where those activities currently exist and could easily be developed and should include recommendations on whether and to what extent existing laws should be amended in order to encourage development of adventure tourism in this state, reads the summary.


“Adventure tourism” means outdoor recreational opportunities such as equine and motorized trail riding, white-water rafting and kayaking, rappelling, rock climbing, hang-gliding, shooting sports, spelunking and other such activities.

The bill calls on the department of tourist development to identify suitable geographic regions by Feb. 1 2012. The department must identify for each area the appropriate types of recreational activities suitable to the region and recommend rules and regulations to apply within appropriately designated adventure tourism districts.


A municipality may then, by a two-thirds vote, create an adventure tourism district. One controversial aspect of the bill is a provision that authorizes the operation of an off-highway vehicle upon any streets, roads or highways designated for such purpose and included within the boundaries of an adventure tourism district established pursuant to this bill.