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

Dear Colleagues,

November was certainly an eventful month for tourism, starting with two Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways launches (one at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills and the other in Cleveland), then on to our budget hearing with Governor Haslam at the beautiful new Howard Baker Center in Knoxville, and finishing with the east Tennessee meeting of the Tourism Committee in Sevierville. In each case, the presence of tourism partners was impressive, demonstrating the industry's commitment to growing tourism’s economic impact in Tennessee.

November was just the latest in a year of tremendous accomplishments. So, before we dive head first into 2012, I thought it might be inspiring to look back at some of the highlights of 2011. I know it has inspired me!

We reported great news during our Governor’s Conference with tourism’s direct economic impact reaching $14.1 billion, a 6.3-percent increase over 2009. For only the second time in many years, all 95 counties in Tennessee saw an increase in tourism’s economic impact.

Governor Bill Haslam’s 2011-12 budget proposal kept the Department of Tourist Development with the same dollars as the 2010 budget, and the 107th General Assembly approved and passed our budget as proposed. In these challenging economic times, that was a huge vote of confidence for our industry. For this, we are truly thankful.

Tourism partners attend Governor Haslam's budget hearings in Knoxville

In 2011, TDTD and our many participating partners, launched seven trails in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program, including The Jack®, Pie In The Sky, Great River Road, Promised Land, Ring of Fire, Tennessee River Trail and Tanasi, all to great fanfare and widespread media coverage. We have now launched 12 of the 16 trails and look forward to launching the remaining four in the spring. A detailed article on the sustainability plan is the lead story in this e-newsletter.

Tennessee’s Civil War Trails program continues to have tremendous success. Just under one million Civil War Trail mapguides have already been distributed since May of 2010, and a new mapguide is planned for spring. Tennessee now has 224 markers in the ground, and, thanks to Governor Bill Haslam and TDOT Commissioner John Schroer’s transportation enhancement grant of $818,880, we expect to add 300 additional markers by the end of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration. 

The 2011 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature event held in Cookeville in September was attended by over 2,500 people, including 1,500 students who learned about the impact of the Civil War on the Upper Cumberland. In April 2012, the 150th anniversary of the battle of Shiloh will bring thousands of visitors to west Tennessee, where the third Sesquicentennial Signature Event will focus the nation's eyes on this hallowed ground.

The year 2011 saw the launch of TDTD’s very successful “T3” program, cited by U.S. Travel’s consumer website blog as “one of my favorite social media travel perks.”  Let me encourage all of you to take advantage of this important campaign as it continues into the new year.

Other highlights include Tennessee tourism’s collaboration to bring the highly acclaimed Music Voyager television series to our state. As a result, “Music Highway Tennessee,” a four-part documentary series, will debut worldwide in February. This beautifully produced programming showcases Tennessee through the eyes of its accomplished musicians and will be shown around the world just in time to take advantage of the coming international exposure by the newly formed Corporation for Travel Promotion.

There's more good news on the international front. In an April 26 article in USA TODAY, it was reported that foreign Visa cardholders spent more last year in the U.S., and the biggest percentage of growth included Tennessee - with a 33-percent increase!

Newly constructed Welcome Centers opened at I-65 Ardmore and Tiftonia. Our 14 highly-acclaimed centers greet over 15 million visitors annually. Since 2003, six new welcome centers have been constructed, thanks to the wonderful partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

This year, under the strong leadership of Chief Executive Officer Greg Adkins, the Tennessee Hospitality Association sponsored its first "Day on the Hill" in several years. Special congratulations are in order for Greg and his team for the very successful event, as well as a great year for THA.

I enter this most joyous of all seasons with a grateful heart for the blessings of life, which certainly include my wonderful team at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, as well as all of you, our tourism partners. It has been a great year for tourism – congratulations on a job well done! I truly hope you enjoy a 'Tender Tennessee Christmas' with your friends and family. 

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker


Featured Articles:

Extensive Trail Update – Looking Ahead

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development established the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program to extend visitors’ major-market stays and explore Tennessee back roads. Touching all 95 counties, the 16 extensive pre-planned driving trails integrate portions of the state’s five National Scenic Byways, strengthening promotions of these established Tennessee treasures.

With the launch of the 12th trail, Tanasi, there are only four remaining trails in the 16-trail development process. Trail development and creation of the brochure collateral for all 16 trails will be complete by the end of December 2011. This process is considered Phase I of the program and included primary advertising for two years, Partnership Marketing Program funding to each trail committee, and major feature coverage in the 2010 and 2011 Official Tennessee Vacation Guides.

With a solid foundation and successful promotion of the program, we will move to Phase II in the spring of 2012. Trail Toolkits will be provided to each committee. These toolkits will contain the resources and information necessary for all-around program sustainability, which includes strategic planning, identity/packaging, collateral (including the re-print process for the brochure), interactive, public relations, environmental graphics, advertising, media and total brand integration.

After the distribution of the toolkits, the goal is to culminate Phase II with a potential statewide event projected for late spring of 2012. The purpose of the event would be to celebrate the completion of all 16 trails and Phase I of the initiative, energize the committees and partners for Phase II of the program, as well as provide an opportunity for additional media and consumer exposure.

Recent Trail Launch Events

State, county and city officials at Loretta
Lynns Museum

Last month, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development celebrated the launches of two trails, the Tennessee River Trail and the Tanasi Trail. The Tennessee River and the Tanasi launches took place at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills and at Museum at 5ive Points in Cleveland.

The 11th of 16 self-guided trails in the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program, the Tennessee River Trail travels 347 miles throughout Middle and West Tennessee along the Tennessee River. The event, which was launched in partnership with the Tennessee River Trails Association, began with a reception including tastings from area restaurants featuring gumbo, catfish, local cheese and other desserts and treats.  The program included comments from state and local officials, including representatives from the Tennessee Departments of Tourist Development and Transportation. Perry County Mayor John Carroll emceed the event, Cissy Lynn hosted, and Representative John Tidwell also brought remarks.

Jamie Russell; Shawn Bible, TDOT; Commissioner
Whitaker; Dr. Carroll Van West; and
Melissa Woody, Cleveland/ Bradley County CVB

The Tanasi Trail, the 12th of 16 in the program, travels throughout Southeast Tennessee. Participating dignitaries in the Tanasi unveiling, in addition to Commissioner Susan Whitaker, included Suzanne Herron, director of the environmental division at TDOT, Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis, Cleveland City Mayor Tom Rowland, and special guest Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University and director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

All trail collateral material is expected to be completed by year’s end. Launch events for the remaining trails, including Cotton Junction, Screaming Eagle, Top Secret and Rocky Top, will be held in the spring of 2012.

TACVB Blizzard

The Tennessee Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus will host its annual mid-winter educational conference “The Blizzard” on February 2-3, 2012. This award-winning conference will feature topics and speakers designed specifically for tourism professionals responsible for bringing visitors to their area. The event will take place at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in Murfreesboro beginning at 11 a.m. on Thursday and concluding at 1 p.m. on Friday.

Keynote presenter Phil Bruno (“Treat ‘em Right”) will join a dynamic group of speakers including Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Brent Templeton, Rich Benjamin, Annette Trotter, Dr. Steve Morse, and others.TACVB‟s affiliate members will be there to highlight their products and services, as well as offer tips for better business solutions.

Because of the event’s major sponsors, Miles Media and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, conference costs are low enough for even the smallest tourism entity to attend.

The Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center is conveniently located just off I-24 in Murfreesboro. The $99 guaranteed room rate is good until January 12th by calling 615-890-4464 (mention “BZZ” or TACVB).

For more information, call Sheila Leggett, TACVB Executive Director, at 615-254-1233, email sheila@associationpartners.com or visit our website at www.tacvb.net.


TDTD Sales Takes State Message to NTA, ABA and More 

With more than 56 pre-scheduled appointments with domestic and international tour operators, Tennessee is poised to have another successful and productive showing at the annual National Tour Association convention.  While at NTA, Tennessee Tourism and multiple industry partners will be hosting an evening reception at the House of Blues. More than 75 tour operator attendees have already sent in their RSVP! 

Also in December, TDTD, along with representatives from seven other southern states, will participate in the annual Travel South Receptive Tour Operator sales mission. In mid-December, representatives from tourism will share an exhibit space at the popular Midwest Band Clinic to reach out to the student performance/band market. 

Please be on the lookout for information about the upcoming American Bus Association Marketplace in Grapevine, Texas Jan. 5-11.  Tennessee Tourism will host an evening event at ABA on Saturday, Jan. 7.

In January, Tennessee will be attending the Tennessee Motor Coach Association convention in Lexington, Ky., then partner with State Parks to participate in the AAA Alabama Consumer Travel Show in Birmingham at the end of the month. 

Web Assistance Tour 2012


Upcoming tour dates and locations for the first quarter of 2012:

Jefferson City   January 18
Oak Ridge        January 19
Murfreesboro   February 1
Cleveland         February 29
Monteagle        March 1

More dates, including west region locations, to be added soon.

Check the industry section of tnvacation.com for the latest Web tour news and details.

Civil War Update

Shiloh Natinal Military Park

Tennessee’s Civil War Documentary Receives Emmy Nominations

The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial documentary project received two Midsouth Emmy Nominations when the Nashville/Midsouth Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recently announced their regional nominations. 

NPT Vice President of Content and Technology Kevin Crane received a nomination for his work on Tennessee’s Civil War 150: Songs and Stories in the Documentary/Historical category, an honor he shares with Steve Hall, Ken Tucker and Barry Cross of The Renaissance Center, producers of the program.  In the Public Affairs category, Kevin Crane and Ed Jones received a nomination for Tennessee Civil War 150: Secession

The Civil War documentary project was developed through partnerships with the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, Nashville Public Television and The Renaissance Center.  The 26th Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards will be held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on March 17, 2012.  To view the documentary videos visit http://tnvacation.com/civil-war/tools/videos/


In commemoration of the 150th of the Battle of Shiloh, The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission’s 2012 Signature Event will be held April 4-5, 2012 at Pickwick Landing State Park. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of history as Tennessee commemorates The Battle of Shiloh, one of the Civil War's most momentous battles. Governor Haslam has been invited to speak at the opening ceremony.

A full program of activities may be found at www.tncivilwar150.com, including details of living history and re-enactment events March 29-30 and Shiloh Battlefied events April 6-8, 2012, including a Grand Illumination of the battlefield on April 7 featuring 23,746 luminaries, one for each American soldier killed, wounded or missing at Shiloh.

Winter with Elvis

In a continuing effort to promote tourism across the state and showcase Tennessee’s holiday season, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has launched its winter site at winter.tnvacation.com. This year, the interactive website encourages visitors to experience the holiday season with the King of Rock ‘N Roll, Elvis Presley with the theme, “Winter With Elvis: Lights, Camera, Action.”

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, in partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. and Peabody Memphis, kicks off the launch of the site with its Winter With Elvis contest. To enter, simply fill out the form located at http://winter.tnvacation.com/camera/, with complete rules available at winter.tnvacation.com. The prize includes a stay at The Peabody Hotel Memphis, a VIP tour of Graceland and tours of Sun Studio, Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum. The contest ends Feb. 6, 2012.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development worked with Tennessee-based digital agency Designsensory for the technical development of winter.tnvacation.com. The site encourages visitors to experience the winter season in Tennessee. Visit winter.tnvacation.com/ for details.

Facts & Trends


International Travel By the Numbers

The global travel market grew by more than 60 million travelers annually between the years 2000 and 2010.  However visitation to the U.S remained almost flat.  As a result, the United States passed the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 to increase foreign leisure, business and scholarly travel to the U.S., thus creating significant economic growth and jobs creation.  Brand USA is the name of the travel campaign and the organizing body which has released these facts and trends:

Top four reasons visitors come to the U.S.:  the great outdoors; urban excitement; culture; indulgence

Travel to the U.S. supports 1.8 million jobs.

Spending on goods and services by an overseas visitor averages $4,000 per trip.

Overseas visitation to the U.S. is projected to increase by 40% ($300 million) by 2020.

By the same year, predictions are that global travel spending will double, reaching $2.1 trillion.

Credibility of Information Sources Varies with Age

We pretty much understand that the consumption of media in our society varies depending on the age group.  Now Peter Yesawich of Ypartnership points out in his October 2011 blog that “message credibility also varies by medium for each of the major generational clusters.”

Although recommendations of family and friends still maintain the highest degree of confidence in considering where to vacation for all age groups Yesawich relates these interesting facts and trends:

Millennials (18-32 years of age) have a higher confidence in the information from online sources (blogs, websites, YouTube, etc.) than older groups.

Xers (33-46 years of age) are more likely than Millennials or Boomers (47-65 years of age) to trust the website of an online travel agency.

Boomers are less likely than their younger counterparts to have confidence in reviews on online advisory sites.

Matures are more likely to be confident in a travel agent’s suggestion and less likely than the younger groups to have confidence in online sources.

Welcome Center

Frank Thomas and Tami Giles

Employee of the Month

Being surrounded by a good team of people is really all that any supervisor could ask for. The Director of Welcome Centers, Barry Young understands and appreciates having just that.

“The veteran team of Frank Thomas and Tami Giles are both tremendous assets to the Tennessee Welcome Centers as they assist with keeping the operation running from the central office in Nashville,” said Young. 

For their continued service and dedications, Frank and Tami have been selected as the Tennessee Welcome Center Co-employees of the month for November 2011.  The duo has a combined nearly 45 years of service with the state.

We sadly say so long to Barry Young as he leaves the position of Director of Welcome Centers after 6 ½ years of service to the department.  Barry begins his new journey as the Executive Director of the Sumner County Convention & Visitors Bureau in December.


Industry Applause

Sevierville Shoppers

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

STS Shining Example Awards PRESENTED To Tourism Partners

Southeast Tourism Society’s 2011 Shining Example Awards were held in November in New Orleans. Tourism’s Lee Curtis co-emceed the event with Berkley Young.

Tennessee tourism partners walked away with two prestigious awards. Convention and Visitors Bureau/Chamber of Commerce of the Year Award in Category 2 ($2-5 million total revenue) was awarded to the city of Gatlinburg. Dave Perella accepted the award.

The Visual Excellence Award is presented to the nominee who shows the best use of design, photography or video promoting a venue. Sevierville Chamber of Commerce was given this prestigious award. Art Direct Chad Branton, along with Chamber Chief Executive Officer Brenda McCroskey, accepted.

TN River Valley Geotourism Website Now Online

National Geographic announced the “Tennessee River Valley” Geotourism website is now online at www.tennesseerivervalleygeotourism.org. The Geotourism MapGuide is located on National Geographic’s online site that averages around 10 million viewers per month. The new Geotourism MapGuide website features the region in one of only 15 such projects in the world, and the only river region to be featured.

National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis

Civil Rights Museum Seeks Donors for Renovation

The National Civil Rights Museum has launched the public phase of its campaign to raise $40 million for a major renovation of the facility at the old Lorraine Motel, the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam joined officials from the Memphis museum at a news conference announcing the campaign. Haslam said the state is giving $2.5 million from this year’s budget for the renovation, adding to the $2.5 million given by the state last year. The museum attracts 200,000 people each year, including 60,000 children.

Frist Center, Nashville

Frist Center Receives NEA Grant

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will receive $48,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, opening in 2012, as well as production of the exhibition’s accompanying catalog.  The Frist Center’s grant is one of 863 NEA grants totaling $22.543 million encompassing 15 artistic disciplines and fields.  The grants support projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Carrie Mae Weems is a socially motivated artist whose works invite contemplation on issues surrounding race, gender and class. Increasingly, she has broadened her view to include global struggles for equality and justice. 

Master Gardeners Receive International Award

Davidson County Master Gardeners were honored with a 2011 Search for Excellence award at the International Master Gardener Conference for their work with the garden at Nashville Zoo’s Historic Grassmere Home and Farm. The garden was first place winner in the demonstration garden category. The Search for Excellence awards recognize outstanding contributions of Master Gardeners throughout the United States and Canada. Projects must demonstrate that significant learning took place, either by the Master Gardeners or the general public with which they are involved.

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