Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents May 2008 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
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A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Tourism Partners,

This past month has been a remarkable one for the Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee’s tourism industry. We have just concluded the Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit, and I am both inspired and challenged by those two extraordinary days in Knoxville.

First, I want to thank Governor Bredesen for his active support of the Summit. As a true champion of conservation and economic sustainability, Governor Bredesen gave his full endorsement to the Summit, which was invaluable.

Over 70 speakers, moderators, presenters, and panelists from around the country brought expertise and best practice case studies to the Summit platform. The wealth of knowledge was enough sustainable seed-planting to keep Tennessee on the “green” track for generations to come. More than 500 attendees participated in the conference, representing 11 states and tourism partners from across Tennessee. This show of support from the tourism industry and community leaders tells us all that we are on the right track for the future.

This significant event would not have been possible without the support of our many key partners: the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development, National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, The University of Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area; and our sponsors: Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation and Pilot Travel Centers.

Finally, I want to thank my staff, especially Lee Curtis and Patricia Gray, who worked tirelessly to make this Summit something of lasting impact. Well done!

Let me encourage us all to take even greater steps toward protecting and preserving our landscapes and heritage while growing our local economies through tourism. This will enable many future generations to enjoy the beautiful resources with which we have been blessed in Tennessee.

In addition to the Summit, the Department also sponsored the second annual Tennessee Sampler, taking Chicago by storm from April 14th to the 17th. Ninety-four Tennessee tourism partners met with more than 350 Chicago-area media and travel professionals to promote the hundreds of tourist attractions throughout our beautiful state. The Chicago participants were amazed at what Tennessee tourism has to offer their clients, resulting in many new business opportunities.

My personal congratulations and thanks to Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Spence and Marketing Manager Kristi Driver for executing this huge initiative with such success. The Sampler will result in many people from one of the largest markets in the country coming to Tennessee to take their vacations. And, we all know that once they’ve been here, they will come back – that’s another kind of “green” initiative I believe in!

And now, here we are in May and there’s no better time to think “green,” both economically and sustainably. Celebrate National Tourism Week, May, 10-14 and enjoy this growing season as you grow your business around our magnificent state.


Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Tourism’s Sustainable Summit Brings Green Message - More Than 500 Industry Attendees

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne,
Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Superintendent of
the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Dale Ditmanson, Senator Lamar Alexander

The Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit, designed to kick-off and honor the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, successfully brought together more than 500 community leaders and tourism professionals for two days of “green” discussions.

Governor Phil Bredesen provided key remarks during Monday morning’s opening session, which included the participation of Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Tennessee Congressman John Duncan, North Carolina Congressman Heath Shuler, Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam.

"I am so pleased to see the enthusiastic response of the participants to the message of the summit," said Whitaker. " People see the economic importance of sustaining the environment, heritage and culture of the Smokies. It was an invaluable experience that motivated and inspired us all to learn about and to implement sustainable practices throughout our communities."

The inaugural event, organized by the tourism department under the leadership of Commissioner Whitaker, was held in the Knoxville Convention Center. The opening reception at UT’s McClung Museum set the tone for a successful Summit. The sun came out on Monday just in time for a reception and tour at the Knoxville Zoo, sponsored by the Zoo and Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation.

I was blown away by the attendance and participation by such significant decision makers such as the Governor and Secretary of the Interior…I can say the Great Smoky Mountains Summit was a huge success and it is unbelievable to me this was the inaugural event.The Summit featured influential leaders from across the country who presented principles and best practices in sustainability meant to inspire action. Keynote speakers included United States Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and Patrice Frey, director of sustainability for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

"The Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit went above and beyond in providing practical solutions to help us keep our visitors happy while decreasing their impact - and our own - on the environment," said Amanda Maples Marr, Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.

Nationally recognized leaders in “green” initiatives participated, discussing a range of topics from Kimpton Hotels EarthCare program to Sevierville’s waste management system.

"We've been asked to speak at many sustainability conferences to discuss our experiences, challenges, and successes with Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants national EarthCare environmental program.” said Jeff Slye, whose firm, Business Evolution Consulting, is a strategic advisor to Kimpton's EarthCare program. “I was blown away by the attendance and participation by such significant decision makers such as the Governor and Secretary of the Interior…and I can say the Great Smoky Mountains Summit was a huge success and it is unbelievable to me this was the inaugural event."

Deborah Warnick, Williamson County CVB, speaks
about Land Trust for Tennessee in Leiper's Fork,
during the session on Environmental Sustainability,
while other panelists look on.

Tourism Sustainability is defined as sustaining the environment, and historical and cultural heritage of a region, while simultaneously sustaining the economic growth of that region. Additional key partners in the Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit included the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development, National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, The University of Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

If you were unable to attend this year’s Summit, please go to sustainabletourismsummit.com for a recap of the event and, most importantly, for access to the Toolbox that was distributed to all participants as a guidebook to tourism sustainability.

Quotes from Gov. Bredesen at Sustainable Tourism Summit

Governor Bredesen Addresses Audience at Summit

Governor Bredesen addressed the attendees at the Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit and spoke about partnerships, conservation, preservation and economic growth. His address preceded a session on state and federal resources available to assist communities with sustainable tourism initiatives.


"I am so pleased that this conference brings Tennessee and North Carolina together. Not only do we share a border and the great beauty and wonderful resource of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but we can also share ideas and innovations for the good of all our citizens. I am also proud of the public and private partnerships being joined together here as well. Together, we truly can accomplish more."

“Across the state, we have made land conservation a priority,” said Bredesen. “We are blessed with some of the most beautiful and fruitful land on earth, and we are committed to preserving more of our natural resources.”

“It’s my own personal dream that, if we are diligent, our children and grandchildren will have hundreds of thousands of acres of protected land for their use, for hiking and picnicking, hunting and fishing, and enjoying with their families the beauty of the outdoors.”

SHOWCASE - Sampler Sails to Success in Chicago

Tara Leurs and Tom Benson Posed
During the Sampler Trade Show

The 2008 Tennessee Sampler took place April 14 – 17 in Chicago. Over 100 tourism professionals from across the state gathered at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center for a week of sales calls and public relations meetings. The week concluded with a tradeshow and reception, April 17.

The Tennessee Sampler reinforces the camaraderie of Tennessee's tourism industry."The Tennessee Sampler reinforces the camaraderie of Tennessee's tourism industry. It's fun and educational, too, to make media calls with people from across the state. It's especially fun to help a writer find a series of story ideas that that can keep him interested long-term in Tennessee," said Tom Adkinson, vice president at BOHAN Advertising|Marketing in Nashville, who helps Pigeon Forge with its media relations.

Sales teams completed over 500 total sales calls in two days, and the public relations teams met with 50 media outlets in the Chicago area and Milwaukee. Geiger & Associates partnered with the communications department to strategically plan the meetings with various media outlets.

Jackie Reed and Lisa Catron Tout Memphis at Tradeshow

The Tennessee Sampler is coordinated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. The event is a sales mission targeting AAA and tour operators in a key feeder city, adding a public relations aspect for the 2007 Sampler in Tampa, Fla. The final trade show and evening reception provides booth opportunities for partners and features Tennessee musical entertainment.

National Tourism Week Provides Multiple Opportunities

The 25th Annual National Tourism Week is May 10-18. This annual salute to travel and tourism in America is sponsored by Travel Industry of America. (TIA) The TN Department of Tourist Development (TDTD) has established the theme, “Discover Great Tennessee Traditions,” in conjunction with this celebration. Communities statewide are taking advantage of this occasion to showcase travel’s economic, cultural and social benefits.

All of the department’s 13 Welcome Centers invite its tourism partners to join them in extending Tennessee hospitality to travelers visiting the centers. This is the perfect opportunity to actually connect with individual travelers while showcasing your attraction or community with refreshments, promotional items and product giveaways. Special appearances by mascots and interpreters dressed in period attire make the travelers’ experiences even more memorable. Contact your Welcome Center for more details.

Many partners use this week to remind their community of the many benefits travel and tourism brings to citizens of the area. There are numerous resources available to assist you in planning for a successful celebration:

Tourism's newly designed Web site.

Tourism's Industry Partner’s page is filled with economic impact info and more.

TIA has a Tool Kit with sample news releases that can be customized by filling in the blanks and inserting your local data for release to the media in your area. Media relations tips, talking points and more are also available.

The University of Tennessee’s Tourism Institute also has examples of useful ways in communicating the economic benefits of the industry. Dr. Steve Morse’s One Page County Tourism Fact Sheet has proven to be helpful by many stakeholders.

National Tourism Week is the right time to help those in our communities to understand the life-long benefits of enjoying our state’s attractions as well as our cultural and natural resources. From monuments and buildings to landscapes and main streets, the stage is set for you.

2008 Governor’s Conference On Tourism

“Tennessee Tourism: Reaching Higher Ground” will be the theme for the 2008 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which will be held September 24-26 in Gatlinburg.

“We are delighted to be returning to Gatlinburg for the conference,” said John Whisenant, Executive Director of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable (TTR). “Gatlinburg is always a popular destination for our industry, and our hosts there are pulling out all the stops to make sure this year’s conference is the best ever!” TTR and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development are partners in the production of the annual conference.

The Conference will feature three days of outstanding speakers, seminars, social and networking opportunities, and the Tourism Expo.The Conference will feature three days of outstanding speakers, seminars, social and networking opportunities, and the Tourism Expo. Returning this year are two very popular features introduced at last year’s conference: the Tourism Marketing Super Seminar on Wednesday afternoon, September 24; and the Tennessee Tourism and Hospitality Awards Program on Thursday evening, September 25. Also featured will be the annual “State of the Industry” address by Commissioner Susan Whitaker and the distribution of the Department’s 2008-2009 Marketing Plan.

Information on the 2008 Governor’s Conference, including schedule, speakers, and registration and lodging information, will be available June 1, on the TTR Web site at www.tenntourismroundtable.com.

Tennessee featured prominently in ARC and National Geographic Driving Tours Map Guide To Appalachia

The Tennessee representatives at the ARC
event included Paula Lovett and Rick Meredith
of TECD, Phyllis Qualls-Brooks from Tourism,
Anne Pope, ARC Co-chair and Linda Caldwell
of Tennessee Overhill.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and National Geographic Society worked with the 13 ARC states to produce the Appalachian Driving Tours Map. Commissioned by ARC, the map features 28 unique driving trails of the Appalachian Region that lead to a broad array of historical, archaeological, cultural, and scenic sites.

Tennessee is represented on the map with two distinct trails. The Tennessee Overhill “Furs to Factories” trail leads the way to where copper mines, railroads, textile mills and fur trading took place. The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association’s (NETTA) “Tales and Trails” route navigates where 1100 men saved the American Revolution.

The Driving Tours Map is the result of a unique alliance between ARC and National Geographic to design maps that will stimulate economic development by showcasing the remarkable diversity of the Appalachian Region’s natural and heritage assets.

“We are pleased to have such a prominent placement in this distinguished Appalachia MapGuide,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker. “In addition to featuring two distinct regions in Tennessee, the Tennessee Overhill and NETTA, other significant Tennessee sites have been included such as the Natchez Trace and Lookout Mountain Parkways.”

Supplemented with colorful photos, descriptive text and more detailed information for travelers, the map was distributed to 865,000 subscribers in the April 2008 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine as well as to other target audiences in the Region.

ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne Pope welcomed the launching of the new map. “As the successor to the highly successful National Geographic MapGuide to Appalachia, we expect it to continue to increase visitation to the Region in measurable ways,” stated Pope. “The driving trails featured in this map represent wonderful opportunities to see all the natural treasures Appalachia has to offer.”

National Geographic Editor Keith Bellows noted that “With the theme of ‘All Travel, All the Time,’ National Geographic Traveler commemorates journeys that are about place, experience, culture and authenticity. Appalachia contains a wealth of natural, historic and cultural treasures. We are excited to give travelers a great tool to seek out the more than 300 sites featured on the printed map.”

To obtain a copy of the Appalachian Driving Map Tours, contact the Department of Tourist Development at (615) 741-2159.

Facts & Trends

Recycling Saves

Vanderbilt University has partnered with the University of Memphis and East TN State University to host a statewide FREE electronics recycling event May 14-17. The Middle TN event will be held in the LP Field (Titans Stadium) parking lots from 9am-3pm each day. Any type of computer system, printers, copiers, fax machines, TVs, cell phones, iPods and mp3 players, game consoles, and other types of consumer and office electronics will be accepted for recycling during this event.

From May 14-16, higher education institutions, K-12 schools, school districts, government agencies and non-profit organizations can bring their electronics to LP Field for FREE recycling. To register your institution, go directly to http://tennessee.poweron.com/register.

On May 17 from 9am to 3pm, the event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC so that any Middle TN individual or household that would like to recycle their unwanted electronics can drop off their items at LP Field (Titans Stadium).

Help to ensure that unwanted electronic equipment in Middle TN is disposed of in a safe and environmentally-responsible manner. For more information about this event, please visit Vanderbilt’s sustainability Web site at www.vanderbilt.edu/sustainvu.


Travel & Relationships
More than half of employed Americans say they come back feeling reconnected with their family after vacation (53%) Source:TIA

Quote of the Month

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
St. Augustine

Education Profile

Sean Sheridan and Patrick Casey

Sean Sheridan, a student at Nashville State Community College (NSCC) has become a part of the tourism family. The Computer Technology major enjoys working with computers and is assisting the TDTD's Information Systems and Support Services.While he has always had a love of computers, the love of his life convinced him to pursue the field as a career option. "My wife, Jessica, motivated me to go into the study of computer technology and I did," said Sean.

Sean works 36 hours a week with the TDTD as part of the Information Systems Cooperative Education (Co-op) Student Program. The program helps students by employing them in their field of study and giving them the chance to learn how the IT workplace operates while providing the agency with an educated, interested and motivated team member.

The co-op continues to bolster the goals of the departments Education Initiative of exposing more students to careers in tourism. With four years of Army service, the 25-year old is looking to gain as much knowledge of the industry as possible.

Sean's objectives include supporting mobile devices, including laptops and blackberries, providing competent and professional end user application support, troubleshooting and resolving hardware issues and providing network administration assistance. In his first supervisor's evaluation, Sean received a perfect score.

"Sean is very dependable and knowledgeable with a willingness to learn," said Patrick Casey, Director of Information Systems and Support Services. "He works well with our staff and is eager to assist in whatever way needed."

Casey has been with TDTD for 12 years and is directly responsible for all aspects of the Information Systems and Support Services including Desktop Support/LAN Administration, Telecommunications and Support Services. He serves as Sean's supervisor and mentor.

"I've gained more confidence in my abilities and learned a lot from Mr. Casey from my experience within the Department and I would like to become a permanent employee of the State of Tennessee following graduation," said Sean.

With a current 3.9 grade point average, Sean is on pace to graduate on May 6, 2008.

Memphis Shines Brightly During Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration

Bonnie Dickson, MCVB and Marty Marbry and
Phyllis Qualls-Brooks of Tennessee Tourism at
the National Civil Rights Museum gala event during
the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration events

The first week in April was a proud time for all of Tennessee, and one of the state's treasured attractions, the National Civil Rights Museum, was a shining star. The City of Memphis, the Memphis CVB, the Memphis Tourism Foundation and the National Civil Rights Museum worked together as a strong team to show the world that from the ashes of tragedy, triumph can rise.

Many events were scheduled in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 assassination. The events, ranging from seminars and workshops at the University of Memphis to a City Hall ceremony honoring the sanitation workers who went on strike 40 years ago, all told the story of Memphis's past and present and demonstrated the hope for the city's future.

It was a time to show growth and unity, and the citizens of Memphis did just that.Governor Bredesen attended a school mentoring program at Mason Temple, the church where Dr. King made his last public speech, widely known as The Mountaintop Speech. “I want you to know how many Tennesseans are remembering tonight a great American," Bredesen told attendees, adding, "and how many of us are keeping in our prayers all those who work to fulfill his vision of a fairer and far greater America.”

An emotional and poignant experience was the wreath-laying ceremony with the King children on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, at the very spot where their father stood on April 4, 1968, at 6:01 p.m., when he was fatally struck by a gunman's bullet.

It was a time to show growth and unity, and the citizens of Memphis did just that.

We Welcome You

Welcome Center Assistant Debby Lay
gives a Tennessee map to Glenna Boggs
of Sandy Hook, Kentucky. Glenna was the
very first customer at the temporary location
of the Jellico Welcome Center

Jellico Welcome Center temporary location opens

Travelers along I-75 in East Tennessee can rest assure there will be a place of greetings and rest while a new Jellico Welcome Center is under construction. A temporary location has be placed at 181 Douglas Lane in Jellico, while a new "log cabin" style Welcome Center is constructed in Campbell County. The temporary site will be open for approximately one year.

WC Employee of the Month

For the first time we have "Co-Welcome Center Employees of the Month" for April 2008. Mary Ann Leatherwood, a Welcome Center Assistant and Mike Ogle, a Building Maintenance Worker II, both from the Hartford Welcome Center, are sharing this month's honor. These two employees, along with our Security Officer on duty, were instrumental in assisting a tourist who needed help.

Mary Ann Leatherwood and Mike Ogle

Here is the letter that was sent to our office:

Thanks go to your employees at the Hartford Welcome Center on Interstate 40. Mary Ann and Mike were very helpful in resolving a situation where my wife had lost her purse earlier in the day. While in North Carolina navigating the crooked road in the mountains, she noticed that her purse was not where it is usually kept. A quick car check revealed it not to be on board and a fast return to Tennessee was made. Trying to recall where it could have been left was difficult at best and upon returning to your state we stopped at the first available Welcome Center where the employees mentioned above came to the rescue. First, they understood the situation, explaining that this was not the first time this has happened and tried to reconstruct the events leading up to the loss. Mary Ann called other rest areas with no luck. The likely location was a Wendy's some miles away. She got out the Yellow Pages, located the Wendy's, called them and located the purse which was in their safe. Crisis avoided, vacation saved, due to your employees who went beyond the call of duty. Our thanks go to the State of Tennessee!

Ron and Carol Anderson


"Mike and Mary Ann both work very hard and they are very deserving of this award," said Hartford Welcome Center Manager Jackie Rains . Mike has been with Tourist Development for 17 1/2 years, while Mary Ann has been with us for 12 years.

"This is a group effort, we all work together and it takes everyone to get things done," said Mary Ann.

Industry Applause

Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.

Opry Mills

Celebrate National Tourism Week, Saturday, May 10-Sunday, May 18.

The Department of Tourism will partner with the Nashville Attractions Expo at Opry Mills Mall to highlight the many events and attractions that are in the area. All the state’s 13 Welcome Centers will highlight the week with activities from their respective areas. It’s a good time to celebrate tourism.

Memphis trolley

Memphis Gets Top Destination Designation

Life Books has named Memphis as one of the best family friendly vacation spots in the world. In a soon to be released book, “Dream Destinations: 100 of the World’s Best Vacations” the editors tout Memphis as a top historical destination. The book will be released May 1 and ranks Memphis with top tourism stops such as London, Orlando and Washington D.C.

Walters State is Cooking

Walters State Community College recently dedicated the Conner-Short Center on the Sevierville campus. The new state-of-the-art facility provides the Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts with a 2100 sq. ft. kitchen, a demonstration kitchen and dining room plus facilities for the school’s professional entertainment program. The institute for culinary arts was named in honor of the late Rel Maples, one of Sevier County’s first restaurateurs and a community leader.


Knoxville Zoo unveils “Green Monkey Initiative”

In conjunction with the inaugural Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit, the Knoxville Zoo unveiled its “Green Monkey Initiative. The program was established to bring attention to the many green practices and programs currently in place at Knoxville Zoo. The program also allows the Zoo to share conservation messaging and teach zoo visitors how to incorporate green practices into everyday life.

It’s In the Can

The Hardin County Convention & Visitors Bureau collected aluminum cans for the month of April in honor of Earth Day, which was celebrated on April 22. The proceeds from the cans collected benefit this year's Fourth of July Fireworks at Pickwick Landing State Park. Tourism Director Rachel Baker said, "The Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau is excited about this project which will help raise awareness for Earth Day and the importance of recycling”.

Gov. Phil Bredsen and ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber
stand with officials from Site Selection magazine

Tennessee Receives “Most Competitive” Award

The state has received the 2007 Competitiveness Award from Site Selection magazine. The announcement marks the second time the state of Tennessee has placed first among the annual ranking of sites by one of America’s leading economic development publications. Governor Bredesen and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber accepted the award on the historic Ryman Auditorium state in Nashville, former home of the Grand Ole Opry. The state of the Ryman has figured prominently in business marketing for the state of Tennessee, utilizing the theme “The Stage is Set.”

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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