Europe’s Goin’ Country

With gas, groceries and the price of just about everything else going up and the dollar going down against foreign currencies, an unlikely winner is Tennessee.

Memphis and Nashville are fast becoming destination cities for European travelers, according to state tourism officials.

Tennessee’s Department of Tourist Development reports CMA Music Festival tour packages have sold out in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

"It’s very interesting for us to go to the United States for the moment. We can buy more things, some boots and some hats," Parisian Annie Sapede told the Tennessean.

Foreign tourists spent nearly $362 million in Tennessee in 2006, up 5 percent from 2005, according to the paper, much of it on music tourism at locations such as Graceland and the Grand Ole Opry.

Wolfgang Streitboger markets Tennessee tourist attractions in Europe.

He says European fans of country music have waited years to see the American landmarks associated with it, and now they can finally afford it.

John Peters of Germany recently visited the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The strong euro now offers a "great possibility for those with little money to see the great, wide world."