Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents November 2011 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Tourism Partners,

It’s November, so I think it is very appropriate that I find myself so thankful for what’s been happening in Tennessee tourism. It is always thrilling to announce good news regarding Tennessee tourism’s annual economic impact results.  For those of you unable to attend Governor’s Conference this year, the entire Tennessee tourism industry once again achieved excellent results as announced in U.S. Travel’s Economic Impact Report for 2010.

Tourism contributed $14.1 billion to the state’s economy, a 6.3 percent increase over 2009. For only the second time in years, all 95 counties in Tennessee saw an increase in tourism economic impact, and for the fifth consecutive year, tourism generated more than $1 billion in state and local taxes.  International visitation increased to $392.7 million, a 6.8 percent gain. Tennessee is 10th in the U.S. for total overnight leisure stays, and in 2010, total person-stays reached an impressive 79.7 million. The entire report is located online at  tnvacation.com/industry/

Our aggressive marketing efforts will continue thanks to the $3.5 million non-recurring appropriation approved for our 2011-2012 marketing budget. I am so grateful to Governor Bill Haslam and the 107th General Assembly for passing our budget as proposed. We are committed to getting the highest return on investment possible for those dollars. Thank you for your confidence and support!

Greg Schumann accepts Southern Living’s
Gladiator Award

Special tourism awards were presented during this year’s Governor’s Conference honoring three of tourism’s most avid supporters. Dollywood’s Senior Manager of Sales and Strategic Alliances Carol Agee was awarded the “Champion of Tourism.” Southern Living was presented the Gladiator Award, accepted by Publisher Greg Schumann. Dr. Carroll Van West, director of both MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, was honored with the Wiley Oakley Award. Congratulations to these wonderful friends of Tennessee tourism.

We all know how important our websites are in this industry. Many people are involved on a daily basis to guarantee that our state consumer website, tnvacation.com, is successfully providing travel planners with up-to-the-minute, state-of-the-art Tennessee travel information. Recently their hard work was once again rewarded when tnvacation.com was named one of the “top 20 tourism sites in the world for your inspiration” by AWWWARDS.  Yes, in the world!  Tnvacation.com shares this elite honor with, among others, Chile, New Zealand and New York City. Take a look at the competition at http://www.awwwards.com/20-tourism-sites-for-your-inspiration.html. Congratulations, Brandon Rochelle, Joseph Nother, Paula Solomon and the entire staff of Design Sensory, as well as our own Mike Uhles for this outstanding recognition.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the entire state of Tennessee also have cause for celebration as the park was named “Top Family Destination” by Frommer’s in their Top Destinations 2012. They wrote: “This is America, unvarnished and unabashed, making pilgrimages into celestial surrounds. Join your brethren and head to the park's highest peak, Clingman's Dome, soaring to 6,600 feet above sea level. Angle for fish in trout-rich streams, lakes and rivers. Reach out and touch the stars on a blue-black night in one of the park's 10 developed campgrounds.” They said it well. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a remarkable place. And this will undoubtedly make it a must-see destination for all those Frommer’s fans!

Our Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program has been going full steam this fall. Since last month, we’ve launched the Promised Land and Ring of Fire trails (numbers 9 and 10) and will be launching Tennessee River Trail on Nov. 4 at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills. Nov. 17, the Tanasi Trail will be launched from Museum at 5ive Points in Cleveland. If you are in the area, please join us for these very special trail launch events.

We have also had two very successful travel writer FAM trips in October, the first highlighting tourism attractions in and around Nashville, and the second in Chattanooga and Southeast Tennessee. More than 35 writers attended the two FAMs, representing publications such as AAA Going Places, Better Homes & Gardens, Texas Co-op Power Magazine, St Louis Post-Dispatch, Group Tour Magazine and New York Times Syndicate. We look forward to seeing great stories on many of those regional destinations.

Before we get too far ahead with our plans for the holidays and for the coming year, let’s all take a moment to acknowledge how blessed we are. This is a beautiful state filled with incredibly positive and creative people. Thank you for what you do to make it so special for our visitors. You inspire me every day.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving - and don’t forget to count your blessings!

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Governor Haslam Addressed Tourism Conference

Governor Haslam Greets Dwana Pusser
& Lori Nunnery

The 2011 Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held Oct. 5-7 in Memphis, Tenn. at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. The conference, centered on the theme, “Taking Care of Business,” was presented in partnership with the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, a statewide association uniting the various stakeholders involved in the tourism industry.

Governor Bill Haslam addressed the audience of tourism professionals, expressing his support for the tourism industry in Tennessee and praised the industry for its work in making Tennessee one of the leading tourism industries in the country.

Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker presented her annual state of the industry address before the governor’s speech, announcing the latest tourism statistics as reported by U.S. Travel Association.

According to U.S. Travel’s 2010 Economic Impact Report, Tennessee tourism contributed $14.1 billion to the state’s economy, a 6.3 percent increase over 2009. For the fifth consecutive year, tourism generated more than $1 billion in state and local taxes, and for only the second time in recent memory, all 95 counties in Tennessee saw an increase in tourism economic impact.

Dollywood’s Carol Agee presented
Champion of Tourism Award.

Whitaker unveiled during her address the department of tourism’s new Tennessee brand-centric logo and creative, “Tennessee, We’re Playing Your Song.” The latest branding initiative is part of collective feedback from industry partners and the expertise of the department’s creative partners from Designsensory, Miles Media, Paramore and White|Thompson, now known as Sullivan Branding. Sullivan Branding designed and executed the new campaign.

Special tourism awards were presented during this year’s conference, honoring three of tourism’s most avid supporters. Dollywood’s Carol Agee was presented the “Champion of Tourism” award, Southern Living was presented the Gladiator award, accepted by Publisher Greg Schumannn, and Dr. Carroll Van West was presented the Wiley Oakley Award.

The 2012 Governor’s Conference will be held in Sevierville.

Promised Land and Ring of Fire Trails Launched in October

Bradley Gaskin at Ring of Fire
Trail Launch

As the year begins to come to a close, the Department of Tourist Development continues to launch trails in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program. Just last month, the department, along with trail committees and state and local officials, celebrated the opening of the Promised Land Trail on Oct. 12 and the Ring of Fire Trail on Oct. 20.

The launch of the Promised Land Trail was celebrated at a special event at the Nashville Riverfront Train Station and the Historic Watertown Depot. The ninth of 16 self-guided driving tours in the program, The Promised Land Trail spans 514 miles throughout Middle Tennessee, traveling through Cumberland, Davidson, Dekalb, Jackson, Putnam, Smith, White and Wilson counties. The launch included a train ride from the Nashville train station to Watertown for continued launch activities.

Promised Land Trail Launch - Jody Sliger,
Rep. Eric Watson, Commissioner Whitaker,
Commissioner Schroer, Sen. Jack Johnson

The Ring of Fire Trail, the 10th trail to launch in the program, launched at Fontanel Mansion & Farm, former home of Barbara Mandrell. The trail stretches 334 miles from Nashville across the gorgeous Cumberland Plateau through Davidson, Clay, Macon, Robertson, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale and Jackson counties. The event kicked off with songs by country singer, Bradley Gaskin, best known for his Top 5 hit, “Mr. Bartender,” and was followed by special speakers.

Up next, the Tennessee River Trail launches Nov. 4 at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills and the Tanasi Trail launches Nov. 17 at Museum Center at 5ive Points in Cleveland.

For more information on the trails, visit tntrailsandbyways.com.


Dr. Steve Morris, Mona Herring, Dr. Van West
& Jay Saylers

Dr. Carroll Van West Receives the Wiley Oakley Tourism Award!

At the recent Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism held in Memphis, with standing ovations, Dr. Carroll Van West took home the prestigious Wiley Oakley Award. 

As director of both the MTSU Center of Historic Preservation and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Dr. West has worked tirelessly across the state to lay the groundwork for the interpretation and preservation of Tennessee’s heritage in many communities from East to West.

In addition, as co-chair along with Commissioner Susan Whitaker, of the Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission, he has helped to lead the state’s efforts to promote, fund and preserve the complete story of Tennessee’s Civil War and its legacy.  Dr. West’s partnership with the department’s Tennessee Civil War Trails program includes his vetting of every Civil War trails marker and making sure we are telling the story in every county. This strong partnership with Dr. West has contributed greatly to the success of the program.

The Wiley Oakley Award is named for Mr. Wiley Oakley who is considered to be one of the first advocates for tourism and hospitality in Tennessee.  Born in 1885 at the base of Mount LeConte in Sevier County in the Great Smoky Mountains, Wiley Oakley was known as the “Roamin’ Man of the Mountains.” 

It is with this spirit of sharing the story about the state of Tennessee that Dr. West was selected to receive the Wiley Oakley Tourism Award from the TACVB.

T3 – Partner Input Requested

Have you participated in our Tennessee Travel Tuesdays (T3) program? We want your feedback! Please help us by completing this quick, five-minute survey. Thank you in advance for helping us improve the T3 program. Link to survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/tdtdt3

Sales Update

Upcoming Sales Missions & Shows

Tennessee will be represented at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) trade show in Myrtle Beach, SC, Travel South Receptive Sales Mission in Orlando, FL and the National Tour Association (NTA) convention in Las Vegas over the next five weeks. Now is your time to update our sales team with the most up-to-date information about your destination, attraction, or property. Please send to Bennjin Lao at bennjin.lao@tn.gov or Jamie Lynn Thompson at jamielynn.thompson@tn.gov. We look forward to selling Tennessee!

Web Training Tour is Back for 2012

Due to the excellent reception by industry partners for the inaugural Web Assistance Tour, we will be bringing it back for 2012. Look for some of the first tour stops in Jefferson County on January 18, Oak Ridge on January 19, and Murfreesboro on February 1.

More dates and locations will be announced soon so check the industry section of tnvacation.com often for the latest tour updates. The Web Assistance Tour is a service of the Department of Tourist Development and attendance is free to Tennessee tourism partners.

Contact Mike Uhles at Michael.Uhles@tn.gov for more information about attending or hosting a Web Assistance Tour event.



Civil War Update

Stones River Battlefield Cemetery, Murfreesboro

Scenic Tennessee’s 2011-2012 Photo Contest

In honor of the 150th  anniversary of the American Civil War, Scenic Tennessee’s 18th annual photo contest commemorates Tennessee’s distinctive Civil War sites and landscapes. Co-sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Scenic Tennessee invites photo submissions to “Living Legacies: Capturing the Scenic Beauty of Tennessee’s Civil War Heritage.”   Winners will be named in four categories: adults to students – amateur to professional. Deadline for submission is April 1, 2012.   Photos will be judged for originality, photographic quality and the degree to which they fulfill the objectives of the contest.   For more information please visit www.scenictennessee.org (click on photo contest) or www.tncivilwar.org

Facts & Trends

Growth Reported on TNvacation.com

State of The American Traveler survey of 2011 reported, “Nearly 34 percent of all travelers use an official DMO website to plan their vacation, more than any other resource outside of word-of-mouth.”

Information reported in the 2011-2012 Tennessee Tourism Roadmap distributed at the 2011 Governor’s Conference on Tourism celebrated significant growth in the state’s consumer tourism website, tnvacation.com. In addition, tnvacation.com was recently named one of the “top 20 tourism sites in the world for your inspiration” by AWWWARDS.     

Overall, year-to-date traffic to the site has increased 3.6 percent to 2,994,609 visitors.   (Jan. 1, 2011 to Aug. 31, 2011)  Other 2011 YTD stats reveal: 

Average Daily Visitors:  12,543 (+14.4 percent over 2010 YTD)

Average Monthly Visitors:  374,326 (+12.4 percent over 2010 YTD)

The Top 10 pages viewed YTD on tnvacation.com are:

1.  Home
2.  Attractions
3.  Stay
4.  Calendar
5.  Guide
6.  East
7.  Middle
8.  Guide Printed
9.  Nature-Outdoors
10. West

According to Google, here is the top 10 Country Visitation Ranking for TNvacation.com:

1.  United States
2.  Germany
3.  Canada
4.  United Kingdom
5.  India
6.  Australia
7.  Location not specified
8.  China
9.  France
10. Brazil

For more research information, email your request to Patricia.Gray@tnvacation.com

Welcome Center

Ken Brown

Employee of the Month

Most people complain about working through the night and covering for others when they are needed to.  Not our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for October 2011!

Ken Brown, a Building Maintenance Worker I at the I-81 Sullivan County (Bristol) Welcome Center has continuously served visitors during the third shift for seven years.

According to Welcome Center Manager Ken Olinger, Ken is very dependable and flexible on getting work done or covering shifts when needed.

“Ken has always done an excellent job,” said Olinger.  “He takes pride in his work and we are always getting comments on how clean the restrooms are.”

Industry Applause

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

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Named Top Family Destination by Frommer’s

Frommer’s®, the market leader in travel guides, has released its Frommer’s Travel Top Destinations 2012. This list, compiled by Frommer’s travel editors, writers and experts, names Great Smoky Mountains National Park as the “Top Family Destination.”


Memphis in Forbes Top 10

Thousands of people come to Memphis, and they must be having a good time because Forbes Magazine named the city as one of the Top 10 best weekend destinations in the country.

Franklin Battlefield Gets Grant

The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area will give Franklin a much-needed $240,000 grant to buy kiosks, signs and brochures to bring visitors to the city’s Civil War battlefield park.  The guides will be available at the Eastern Flank of the Battle of Franklin Park.

Lauren Alaina to Officially “Flip the Switch”

November 18 officially begins the 2011 Graceland holiday season when Lauren Alaina, finalist from the 10th season of American Idol will "flip the switch" to officially light Elvis Presley’s Graceland property. The extensive Christmas display includes hundreds of blue lights along the driveway, a life-size nativity scene, Santa and his sleigh and much more, all originally displayed at Graceland by Elvis and the Presley family. 

Gatlinburg Snows on Alabama

The City of Gatlinburg brought snow and Shivers, the penguin from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama vs. Tennessee game. Gatlinburg attractions provided children of all ages a free, one-of-a kind tailgating experience and gave a local family affected by the tornadoes an early holiday gift – a trip to Gatlinburg. "We're excited to recreate Gatlinburg snow tubing in Alabama and also help a deserving family affected by the April storms enjoy a trip they may have not had the opportunity to take this year," said David Perella, executive director of the Gatlinburg Department of Tourism.

Music City Center Lands 2015 Heart Convention

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau announced that the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has chosen the under-construction Music City Center for the International Stroke Convention in February 2015.  The meeting is expected to attract more than 5,000 attendees for a total of more than 7,400 hotel room stays.  

Dave Santucci

Dave Santucci to Direct Tourism Marketing

The Chattanooga CVB appointed Dave Santucci vice president of marketing. He will be responsible for promoting Chattanooga as a leisure and meeting destination and driving tourism in Hamilton County. Santucci has more than 14 years of experience in the hospitality, marketing, public relations and media fields, "which makes him a great asset to the bureau and the community," said Bob Doak, president of the tourism bureau. Santucci has been a marketing consultant for the convention and visitors bureau for the past two years. He also served as marketing consultant for the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Choo Choo and Creative Discovery Museum.

Pigeon Forge Wins Big in Awards Program

Led by two major awards for Wilderness Wildlife Week, the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism has claimed nine Pinnacle Awards from the International Festivals and Events Association. Wilderness Wildlife Week received gold Pinnacle Awards as the best environmental program/event and the best educational program/event in the category for projects with budgets of less than $250,000.The nature-oriented week also won a silver award as the best community outreach program/event. Four other gold Pinnacle Awards were received for best event photograph and best billboard, both for A Mountain Quiltfest; for best printed piece cover design for the Holiday Winter Pigeon Forge Guide; and for best organizational website for MyPigeonForge.com.

American Museum of Science & Energy, Oak Ridge

Ford Names 20 Cool Places to Charge Your Electric Vehicle

Ford has named its 20 cool places to charge an electric vehicle. Charging locations were evaluated based on a number of factors including proximity to a scenic view, landmark/attraction, or dining and shopping centers. Included in the 20 cool locations listing is Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Sevierville Resort Announces Major Expansion

A major Sevier County tourist attraction, Wilderness at the Smokies resort, is looking at a significant expansion. The resort, located along Hwy. 66, will be embarking on a multi-million dollar expansion that is expected to add as many as 50 jobs. The resort already features an indoor water park, and the new expansion will add the Adventure Forest "dry park" which will feature entertainment including a ropes course, laser tag, bowling and black-light mini-golf. The expansion will also double the size of the indoor water park, from seven acres to 14 acres. 

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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