In an attempt to continue the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the state of Tennessee will utilize an unprecedented marketing effort — paying out-of-state tourists to travel to the state.

The program, initiated by Governor Bill Lee and dubbed “Tennessee on Me,” will grant $250 airline vouchers to any individual who travels to Tennessee’s largest cities and stays at least two nights.

The offer will allow anyone to book a trip between July 11 and December 30 of this year and is available to up to 10,000 people.

“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,” Lee said in a tweet attached to a video by country music artist Brad Paisley who highlighted the offer.

However, some state leaders have questioned the governor’s efforts. Particularly, critics point to the fact that the funding of the initiative will send funds paid by Tennessee taxpayers to individuals who reside in other states.

The taxpayer funds stem from a section of the state’s marketing budget, which allocated $2.5 million for the cause. But, state lawmakers seemingly did not know about the specifics of the promotion until Lee announced it on social media.

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally raised questions about the need for such a promotion and the scope of the project.

“It is especially troubling that the promotion is limited to our major cities. At least two of those cities exacerbated the economic crisis by instituting overly aggressive lockdown policies. It makes little sense to limit the promotion to those cities when our rural areas were hit as hard, if not harder, by the economic crisis than those cities,” McNally said.

Further, House Speaker Cameron Sexton was hesitant to embrace the offer.

“It was approved in our budget. We’ll see how it works,” he detailed.

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for the Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]