Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents May 2007 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

During the month of May, the focus turns to tourism as we celebrate National Tourism Week, May 12-20, in Tennessee and throughout the nation. The nine-day recognition, spearheaded by the Travel Industry of America (TIA) provides cities, states and travel-related businesses nationwide the opportunity to collectively champion the power of travel.

This year’s theme is, “Travel and Tourism: America’s Front Door.” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association, defined it by saying: “I love the image represented by the National Tourism Week theme. It says ‘You are welcome here,’ we want people from near and far to discover America and come to know our people, regions and attractions.”

Tennessee’s parallel theme, “Tourism: Tennessee’s Front Door,” illustrates the importance of travel to Tennessee’s image and provides a platform to discuss its role in bringing growth and new business to many sectors of the economy. Additionally, it provides a great opportunity to showcase the tourism industry’s 12.4 billion dollar economic impact. The Department of Tourist Development, along with tourism partners, will heighten awareness of this state’s thriving industry with several major events.

On Monday, May 14, we will hold the Grand Opening of Tennessee’s I-75 Welcome Center in Chattanooga. Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely will join me with other local elected officials, industry partners and local citizens to celebrate the completion of this outstanding new facility. The event will include a ribbon cutting ceremony, some great Tennessee food and local music.

The I-75 Welcome Center is designed as a log cabin and features 4,976 square feet. It is the perfect combination of Tennessee’s warmth, hospitality and modern construction. As with all 13 Welcome Centers across the state, this center was built with funds from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and is operated by The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

On Thursday, May 17, we will hold our second annual Tourism Celebration Fair in Nashville, in the William Snodgrass/Tennessee Tower State Office Building. State agencies intricately involved with tourism will participate in the event to further generate awareness of the tourism, travel and hospitality industry. The fair also showcases the abundant and diverse travel opportunities available in our great state.

Additionally, all 13 Welcome Centers throughout the state will be working with industry partners in their respective regions to heighten awareness of tourism by participating in activities throughout the nine-day recognition. Our Welcome Centers are often the true front door and introduction to Tennessee for our state’s visitors. Welcome Center staff members carry out duties that range from giving directions to planning itineraries to making reservations, all with a warm smile and a willing heart. Read more about our Welcome Centers in the accompanying article.

Although National Tourism Week provides the industry the important opportunity to highlight its economic impact, the week also emphasizes the enormous value of a sincere welcome and memorable experience, which is what we in Tennessee do best.

Celebrate and enjoy Tennessee!

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker


Featured Articles:

Welcome Center Leaves Lasting Impressions

The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to Commissioner Whitaker and is included here to remind us all of the first-class way our Welcome Centers represent Tennessee tourism.

I am from Winnipeg, Canada…and had flown down to Florida and was returning by car. I happened to stop at a Welcome Center in Marion County, about 1/2 hour south of Kimball, east bound on I-24.  While there, I misplaced my brand new and somewhat expensive cell phone.  I did not notice until we stopped for gas in Manchester on I-24. I immediately turned around and headed back to the Welcome Center, an hour's drive.  When I got there I could not find the phone and the office was closed. Using our other cell phone we tried calling my phone.  No success.

We stayed overnight in Kimball, checked the second phone's messages and saw two Tennessee numbers listed from that morning. We returned the call and it was the office of the Welcome Center down in Marion County. They had found my cell phone.  We drove back down to the center and, to my great relief, retrieved my phone. I offered a small reward for finding it, but the lady there refused, saying it was all part of the job. I was very impressed and would like to point out who the employees were.  Jimmy found the phone and Linda helped get in touch with us to retrieve the phone.  They are a credit to your department and your state. We were already impressed by Tennessee and they made it just that much more.

They are a credit to your department and your state. We were already impressed by Tennessee and they made it just that much more. Because we backtracked to get the phone, we adjusted our plans and did the amazing Jack Daniel’s tour in Lynchburg. I still tell everybody about that great little town full of great people. Last night, two of my friends told me about their pending trip to Florida this July.  I am already lining them up for Tennessee time. Thank you, and I look forward to returning to Tennessee in the future.

Winnipeg Canada

Tennessee Sets the Stage for 2007 National Tourism Week

In an effort to raise awareness of the travel and tourism industry’s tremendous economic, social and cultural impact throughout the State of Tennessee, the Department of Tourist Development will participate with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) in the 2007 National Tourism Week, May 12-20.

This year’s theme for Tennessee is “Tourism: Tennessee’s Front Door.” Stakeholders and partners all across Tennessee are setting the stage to champion the power of travel.

In celebration of National Tourism Week, the 13 welcome centers throughout the state will host special tourism events that represent the unique attractions in their areas. Representatives and mascots from popular sites will greet travelers at select welcome centers with a variety of refreshments, brochures, coupons, local music and Tennessee hospitality. Multiple counties will form partnerships to serve samples of honey and jams while displaying arts and crafts from their region. One city in Tennessee will even offer some unsuspecting travelers a free night’s lodging.

In recognition of National Tourism Week, the Department of Tourist Development has invited all state agencies involved in tour and travel to attend a Celebration Fair from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 17 in the third floor lobby and the Nashville Room of the William Snodgrass/Tennessee Tower, 312 Eighth Ave. North, Nashville. 

The Nashville Room, adjacent to the lobby, will showcase promotional items such as commercials, videos, posters and pull-ups, vacation guides and other materials. Participants will offer giveaways and other surprises. There will also be refreshments and live entertainment in the Nashville Room, where visitors can sample some of the fun that is available in Tennessee.  

For more information about welcome center activities during Tourism Week, contact the Department of Tourist Development’s Director of Welcome Centers, Barry Young, at (615) 741-9035 or at Barry.W.Young@state.tn.us.


Dave Perella, TTR Chairman is flanked
by Walt Baker, THLA; Bob Doak,
Chattanooga CVB, and Robert Montgomery,
TN Attractions Assn.


September 19-21, 2007  

Leading tourism officials stood together in announcing that Chattanooga would be the site for the 2007 Governor’s Conference on Tourism.   The Tennessee premier tourism and travel industry conference will be held September 19-21, 2007 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.  

“We are delighted to be back in Chattanooga, one of Tennessee’s premier tourism destinations for the 2007 Governor’s Conference,” said Susan Whitaker, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “This conference is the pinnacle event of our tourism year, as we come together with one voice to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and look ahead with anticipation to the future. I look forward to seeing our statewide industry partners in Chattanooga in September.”  

For the first time ever, this year’s conference in Chattanooga will feature an industry-wide Tourism and Hospitality Expo, combining the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism trade show with the trade shows of the Tennessee Restaurant Association and the Tennessee Hotel & Lodging Association. 

“The mission of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable is to provide a unified voice for the tourism industry in Tennessee,” said Dave Perella, TTR Chairman. “We’re excited that this year’s conference and expo will bring together the various segments of our industry in a whole new way.” 

This Governor’s Conference features presentations by nationally renowned speakers, educational seminars designed for all segments of the tourism industry, networking opportunities and a presentations on the work of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development by Commissioner Susan Whitaker. This annual conference, which is co-sponsored by the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, is aimed at providing a platform for the state’s tourism partners to exchange ideas, share resources and plan for future growth in the industry. 

'We’re excited that this year’s conference and expo will bring together the various segments of our industry in a whole new way.' Dave Perella, TTR Chairman of the BoardTennessee’s tourism industry partners who participate in this three-day conference represent attractions, lodging, bed & breakfasts, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, outfitters, estate rental companies, retail outlets, convention & visitor bureaus and chambers of commerce.  

As one of Tennessee’s largest industries, tourism generates over 178,100 jobs and more than $12.4 billion in revenues, making it one of the state’s key economic drivers. 

 “Tourism is a vital economic driver for the state of Tennessee and locally, for Chattanooga. This conference is an exciting opportunity to showcase everything that Chattanooga has to offer to such a diverse and incredible group of industry partners,” said Bob Doak, CEO and President of the Chattanooga Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “As a leading tourism destination, visitors continue to discover and connect with the city’s diverse natural treasures. In addition to our outstanding attractions, we provide a safe, friendly, fun and scenic environment. It’s an exciting time in Chattanooga and we want everyone to know it.”

Tennessee Road Trip wins Telly Award

 “Tennessee Road Trip”, the tourism department’s popular commercial featuring Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley, was awarded a bronze Telly Award. This broadcast television first features Dolly Parton riding alongside Elvis in a digital scene recreation from the 1967 Elvis film, Clambake.

The Telly Award is another achievement in a long list of success stories surrounding “Tennessee Road Trip.”  Initial media response at the unveiling of the commercial saw more than $2.5 million in earned media and more than 380 million impressions from the television, internet and print PR campaign. The ad was conceived by Memphis advertising agency Chandler Ehrlich.

The Telly Awards honor the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions. 2007 marks the 28th Annual Awards.

CTTP College

CTTP Class

It was another great class for the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable's CTTP program, said John Whisenant, executive director of TTR.  There were 16 industry professionals from across the state who participated in the intense 24-hour educational session for the 2007 Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional College, held at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns.

The class focused on the role of DMO's, tourism research, marketing, branding and theme development. In open discussion, class members were able to apply the information to their respective areas in order to determine specific ways to information can be helpful.

The curriculum stressed the need to do research in all aspects of marketing tourism and to always think like a visitor.

Steve Morse, director of the UT Tourism Institute, and instructor in the CTTP program, said "this program was designed to reflect applied topics of interest to the Tennessee tourism industry." In addition to Dr. Morse, other instructors include John Whisennant and Eva Smith, graduate student in the UT Tourism Institute.

Southeast Tourism Society Nomination Deadline Draws Near

The last day to submit nominations for events that take place in the 4th quarter (October, November, December) 2007 for Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events is Friday, May 11.

Anyone can nominate an event. If your event is chosen, you will be listed among the best festivals/events in the Southeast and receive the widespread exposure that being named a Top 20 Event affords.

Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Events publication receives extensive exposure in print, media, web, television and radio in the U.S. and Canada. Over 600 newspapers, magazines, radio & television stations, AAA's and others receive the listing. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WhereToGoNext.com regularly print the Top 20 as a quarterly feature.

Nomination forms are available online at southeasttourism.org/top_20_events.html. For more information, e-mail Laura Guptill at top20@southeasttourism.org. The Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events chosen for fall 2006 included these Tennessee events: National Gospel & Harvest Celebration, Pigeon Forge; Foothills Fall Festival, Maryville; Goats, Music and More Festival, Lewisburg; Opry at the Ryman, Nashville; Smokey Mountain Christmas Festival, Pigeon Forge; Longhorn Championship FINALS Rodeo and Western Trade Show, Murfreesboro; Trees of Christmas “Christmas Dreams”, Manchester; 13th Annual Christmas in Collierville, Collierville and the NAIA National Football Championship, Savannah.

Industry Applause

National Civil Right Museum, Memphis

Civil Rights Museum and Alex Haley’s Home Cited as Exemplary

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis was singled out as a model to study at a hearing  in which officials with the Smithsonian Institution testified about a future National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Sen. Lamar Alexander, told the witnesses that there are two institutions in West Tennessee worth their review -- the National Civil Rights Museum in the former Lorraine Motel and Alex Haley's home in Henning.  "The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis celebrates the victories of that movement in guaranteeing equal rights to all American citizens regardless of skin color," Alexander told the panel testifying before the Rules Committee.  "It sits in the place where Martin Luther King was killed. One can't help but be moved when visiting there."  The future museum was established when President Bush signed legislation in December 2003. The Smithsonian announced last year that it would be built on Constitution Avenue adjacent to the Washington Monument.

Kingsport MeadowView Makes History as a Marriott Hotel  

 MeadowView Marriott received the Top Operations Excellence Award for the 2nd time in three years. It is the first Marriott Hotel to ever accomplish this feat.  Other awards given to Meadowview Marriott included the Problem Experienced Award, Food & Beverage Award, and Customer Service Excellence Award. 

Arrowmont School

National historic register adds new sites - Gatlinburg's Pi Beta Phi Settlement School

The National Park Service announced that Pi Beta Phi Settlement School buildings on Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts’ campus dating back to the early 1900s are now included on the National Register of Historic Places, the Nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.  The nominations had to first be approved by the Tennessee Historical Commission before getting final approval from National Park Service.  The approval was for the first of two nominations to be considered, The Settlement School Dormitories and Dwellings Historic District that include Teachers’ Cottage (1916), the Red Barn (1923) Stuart Dormitory (1941) and Staff House (1952). 

Port Royal Road Added to Register

The Tennessee Historical Commission declared Port Royal Road has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. A 300-yard segment of the road, part of it in Port Royal State Park, was chosen for its significance as part of the Trail of Tears in Tennessee. "Almost 12,000 Cherokee who were forced to head to the western United States utilized this part of the road in the fall of 1838 and the winter of 1839," the Tennessee Historical Commission said. Other Middle Tennessee spots made the list, too: Promise Land School in Dickson County; Riverside Farm in Rutherford County; and Rucker-Mason Farm in Cannon County.  

County earns special 'Three-Star' Designation  

Montgomery County is now part of the state's "Three-Star" club by finding innovative ways to attract business to the region. At a March 28 ceremony in Nashville, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matthew Kisber announced the county's certification.       

Westin Memphis Beale Street Hotel’s Opening  A Welcome – And Significant – Addition to Downtown  

The $40-million, nine-story, 203-room Westin Memphis Beale Street Hotel is the city’s first upper-upscale hotel to be built in the metro area in more than 20 years.  The new hotel is the first Westin in a five-state area and only the sixth Westin in the southeastern United States, outside of Florida.  Westin Hotels & Resorts brand was ranked “Highest in Guest Satisfaction Among Upscale Hotel Chains.” by J.D. Power and Associates and was voted Best Domestic Hotel Chain by Global Traveler Magazine.  The Westin brand stands out as an innovator in providing cutting edge service and product offerings, which include its signature Heavenly Bed® and Heavenly Bath® luxury offerings, and for the fitness conscious, its WestinWORKOUT® products. 

Rodriguez Appointed  

The Wilson County Convention & Visitors Bureau Director, Ricky Rodriguez,  has been appointed to the Tennessee Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (TACVB) Board of Directors. 

Nancy Bassett Receives 2007 Preservation Achievement Award 

Nancy Bassett of Collierville was presented with the 2007 Preservation Achievement Award by the Tennessee Preservation Trust for her tireless efforts in the production of the newly released pictorial history book by Main Street Collierville, Images of America: Collierville.  The award is given to those who deserve special recognition for their work in preservation at the local level. 

Sande Weiss New General Manager

Sande Weiss has been named General Manager of Music Road Hotel & Convention Center in Pigeon Forge. She formerly served as GM of Wonderworks.

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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