Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents April 2012 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

Springtime Greetings! I recently returned from the U.S. Travel Association’s Board Meeting in Washington D.C. Other Tennessee representatives attending included Butch Spyridon of the Nashville CVB, Kevin Kane from the Memphis CVB and Kemp Gallineau with Gaylord Entertainment. The meeting was a forum to update travel leaders on domestic and international issues, U.S. Travel’s long range strategic plans for industry growth as well as state and local issues that need to be addressed.

The U.S. Travel team presented a three-year strategic plan to meet member needs and increase focus on domestic issues affecting travel and tourism to the U.S. The plan of action falls under the following broad topics:

·      Reducing Barriers (Visa Waiver Program, Improving Air Travel Screening Process)
·      Growing Travel (U.S. Travel/Brand USA partnership, International Pow Wow)
·      Coordinating Industry (ESTO 2012 , Miles Media web-related assets review)
·      Increasing Voice (Vote Travel campaign, National Travel and Tourism Week)
·      Leading Research (Client Studies, Travel Jobs Study)

The meetings in D.C. included a special presentation by Brand USA, the new U.S. international marketing initiative launched by the Corporation for Travel Promotion. I’m pleased to serve on a small advisory council developed by Brand USA to assist in their strategic plans for U.S. markets not as familiar to international visitors. The U.S. is poised as never before to impact international travel to our country and we in Tennessee want to be ready to capitalize on this important segment of the tourism business. The official rollout will take place during International Pow Wow in Los Angeles at the end of April.

“Vote Travel,” a newly launched election year promotion to emphasize the significance of travel to the economic health of the U.S., was presented during the board meeting. Vote Travel is not an endorsement of any political candidate or a political party, but a way to put travel’s importance into the economics dialogue of all campaigns.

A major aspect of the promotion is the Vote Travel bus tour, just launched by U.S. Travel, which included a stop in Memphis on March 27 and an upcoming stop in Nashville on May 4. The 20,000-mile tour will incorporate major rallies in selected cities, as well as meetings with local elected officials and travel industry leaders. For more information go to http://votetravel.org/.

The first week of April is a historic milestone for Tennessee as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. Marking this significant occasion is the much-anticipated 2012 Sesquicentennial Signature Event which takes place April 4 and 5 at Pickwick Landing State Park. It is sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Shiloh
National Military Park Ranger Chris Mekow
were interviewed on Jackson’s “Six in the
City” about the Civil War Sesquicentennial
Signature Event in West Tennessee.

The national prominence of Shiloh, and great work from our PR team, has resulted in tremendous media coverage, including USA Today, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, onsite coverage by C-SPAN and much more. People from 12 states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Maryland and Michigan, as well as international visitors from Argentina and France, have made reservations. Activities continue throughout the weekend, culminating with a grand illumination April 7 honoring the more than 23,000 dead, wounded and missing during the Battle of Shiloh.

My special thanks to Patricia Gray and Lee Curtis, working in partnership with the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, for their tireless effort and dedication in creating an event worthy of this historic occasion in Tennessee. I look forward to seeing many of you in West Tennessee.

Looking ahead this month, the Tourism Committee, chaired by Colin Reed and co-chaired by Ted Miller and Jack Soden, will be in Chattanooga on April 19 at the Chattanoogan Hotel. The meeting will begin with a public forum at 9 a.m. This will be a great opportunity for our tourism partners in that region to receive an update on the Committee’s work and give their input on it.

Additional important Department of Tourist Development events coming up include one of our most important sales and PR missions, the Tennessee Sampler Express April 10-12. We are also continuing our free web training workshops in Townsend, April 17 and in Crossville, April 18. We will be launching the next trail in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program, the Screaming Eagle Trail, April 20 in Clarksville and participating in U.S. Travel’s International Pow Wow April 21-25. Read more about these upcoming events in the e-newsletter.

Thank you for your dedication to our industry and the outstanding way you represent our state to the traveling public. Your efforts are what keep Tennessee one of the top travel destinations in the country. Here’s to a very busy spring season!

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker


Featured Articles:

Governor Haslam To Speak at Sesquicentennial Signature Event

Governor Bill Haslam

Governor Bill Haslam will make special remarks at the state’s 2012 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event, Invasions by Rail and River: The Battle of Shiloh Official Commemoration ceremony April 5.

The commemoration will kick off at 9 a.m. with the firing of a Shiloh cannon at Pickwick Landing State Park. Co-chairs of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, will host the event.

In addition, the Signature Event will feature a forum with America’s foremost historians on the battle of Shiloh, living history demonstrations, a special Civil War Sesquicentennial exhibit offering rare and unique artifacts from the Battle of Shiloh and a musical performance by The 52nd Regimental String Band.

Seating is limited. Register today by sending an email to vionne.williams@tn.gov or call 615-741-2159. The symposium is jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Tennessee Historical Society, Shiloh National Military Park and Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau. To download a complete agenda visit www.tncivilwar150.com.


Tennessee Sampler Express is Around the Corner

We’re just a few days shy of the 2012 Tennessee Sampler Express held April 10-12! Teams are preparing to hit the road along various routes on sales and PR calls to AAA offices, tour operators and media. We’re excited to hear all the good reports from this year’s new fly-in route to markets in Texas and Louisiana.

Fourteen PR reps will visit eight markets during this year’s Sampler, anticipating more than 30 meetings with key media outlets and freelance travel journalists.

On the sales front, 34 partners will participate in the sales meetings, representing 31 partner organizations, hotels and attractions. Nine teams will cover eight routes within the Tennessee drive market and fly-in destination.

In next month’s e-newsletter, we’ll be sure to highlight the success of the 2012 Tennessee Sampler Express!

Marketing/PR Update

Launch Dates Set for Three Trails within the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Initiative

Screaming Eagle will launch at 4:30 p.m., April 20 and will be the 13th finished trail within the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways initiative. Taking place in Clarksville, Tenn., the launch will run in conjunction with the award-winning Rivers & Spires Festival which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. Final event details for the launch are in development but will include entertainment by the Eagles tribute band, Seven Bridges, as well as an exhibition area for tourism partners to distribute valuable information to an estimated 40,000 festival attendees.

The Rocky Top launch is set for 11 a.m. May 15 and expected to take place at The Gatlinburg Inn, the location where Boudleaux and Felice Bryant penned the famous Tennessee state song.

Top Secret will launch at 11:30 a.m., June 15 in Oak Ridge, Tenn. and will run in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Secret City Festival. Oak Ridge Convention & Visitors Bureau partners estimate 20,000 visitors will attend the festival. Tourism partners along the Top Secret Trail will be on site to distribute information following the launch, which will feature musical entertainment and reenactors from several major time periods in Tennessee history.

Cotton Junction is the final trail to launch and round-out the full developmental phase of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways initiative.

Sales Update

Tennessee - made Goo Goo, celebrating
100 this year was an afternoon snack
at Travel South in Louisville.

Tennessee had a superb turnout at Travel South Showcase March 4-8 in Louisville, Ky., with 48 Tennessee attendees representing 37 partner organizations across the state. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development initially had 33 pre-scheduled appointments, however, due to several operators cancelling their attendance of the show last-minute, TDTD conducted 26 meetings and appointments. In addition, PR meetings were conducted with 32 attending domestic and international journalists.

At the conclusion of the trade show, 12 tour operator attendees participated in a FAM tour of Clarksville and Nashville where the Clarksville and Nashville CVBs dazzled the first-time visitors during their three-day trip. Thank you to all our partners for making our state look and feel so welcoming to all the operators that stopped by. 

Also during the show, Travel South made a special announcement about their upcoming inaugural Travel South USA International Showcase to be held Nov. 26 – 29, 2012 in Atlanta, Ga. This will be a new boutique travel show sponsored in part by the Rhythms of the South Alliance. Registration begins May 1 and this show will focus on growing the international inbound market to the states represented by Travel South USA. 

For April, in addition to the busy schedules that our nine sales teams will have during the upcoming 2012 Tennessee Sampler Express sales missions, TDTD will be participating in the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow marketplace in Los Angeles, Calif. International and domestic buyers from more than 70 countries will be on hand to conduct business meetings for future travel to the USA. 

2012 Web Assistance Tour

The Web Assistance training sessions are held to educate and update our tourism partners on the important services available through TDTD. All industry partners are welcome to these FREE sessions.

These events are a great opportunity to get hands-on assistance with the tnvacation.com website, T3 deals program and the tnvacation.com mobile site and PR assistance from a knowledgeable web team.

Upcoming Tour Dates:
Tuesday, April 17, Townsend
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Valley View Lodge
Wednesday, April 18, Crossville
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn Express
Friday, April 20, Gallatin
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Volunteer State Community College
Tuesday, May 1, Paris Landing State Resort Park
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
State Park Inn 

Wednesday, May 2, Clarksville
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Capital Bank Building

To RSVP, please email training@tnvacation.com and include date and location. Please bring your laptop or iPad to the session.

Click here for more information about the Web Assistance Tour.

CTTP College / STS Scholarships Application Deadline Approaches

2012 CTTP College to be held May 3-4

Registration applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional College. The college will be held May 3-4 at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Mt. Juliet.

The CTTP designation, which is recognized as a symbol of excellence and leadership within Tennessee’s tourism and hospitality industries, is designed to provide professional-level, industry-related education for individuals in the state’s tourism industry and to assist them in the performance of their job responsibilities. The CTTP program is an educational and professional development activity of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable and was developed and is administered in partnership with the University of Tennessee Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management.

For more information on the CTTP program and on the 2012 CTTP College, visit the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable website at www.tenntourismroundtable.com.

STS Scholarships Application Deadline Approaches

The deadline to apply for two full scholarships to the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College is April 16.


The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast United States. From July 29 – Aug. 3, 2012, the courses will be held at the campus of North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, Ga. During this week, students will experience a broad-based curriculum of courses designed to teach marketing techniques from all facets of the tourism industry.

Marketing College professors are working, experienced professionals from across the U.S. who not only bring expertise, but real-world knowledge and experience to the classroom. Students who attend three years of Marketing College receive a Travel Marketing Professional certification presented at a special graduation ceremony at the STS spring meeting.

The STS Marketing scholarships will be awarded to two Tennessee tourism professionals and cover tuition, accommodations and most meals for the 2012 session. The scholarships will be granted based on criteria established by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus in cooperation with Miles Media and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Contact Mary.Steadman@MilesMedia.com or Abbie.Gristy@MilesMedia.com to request an application, or download here.  For more information on STS Marketing College visit http://www.southeasttourism.net/marketingCollege_meeting.cfm.

Civil War Update

Shiloh National Military Park

Shiloh Battlefield To Announce Land Acquisition

As part of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event opening ceremonies, officials from the National Civil War Trust, the National Park Service and the State of Tennessee will announce recent preservation successes at the Shiloh National Battlefield. The event begins at 9 a.m. on April 5 at Pickwick Landing State Park. 

During the event, which will be held in the days immediately prior to the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Shiloh, the Civil War Trust will announce three recent preservation efforts on the storied battlefield. These efforts include the transfer of 167 acres of hallowed ground to NPS, the announcement of a $1.25 million campaign to save an additional 491 acres of battlefield land at Shiloh and an update on progress to preserve 267 acres at nearby Fallen Timbers.

The land being transferred was purchased by the Trust with the intention that it would eventually become part of Shiloh National Military Park. As part of its goal to create a permanent legacy of the sesquicentennial commemoration, the Department of the Interior has made acquisition of such properties a top priority.

All events, including living histories, lectures and musical performances, are free and open to the public, but advance registration is suggested. Visit www.tncivilwar150.com for more information.

Welcome Center

I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Center

Unicoi County Welcome Center to be rededicated

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development along with other state and local officials are pleased to announce the rededication of the Interstate 26 Tennessee Welcome Center. The Interstate 26 Welcome Center in Unicoi County near Erwin, Tenn. will be rededicated in honor of former legislator Zane Whitson who represented the county and part of Greene County in the state House of Representatives for 24 years.

Whitson, who died in 2009, was instrumental in the development of I-26 through Unicoi County to North Carolina. He also served on the House Education Committee, Finance, Ways & Means Committee along with serving as industrial recruiter for the county.

The rededication will be held at 11 a.m. April 27 with special remarks by Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and other state officials.

Industry Applause

Participating in the official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
were (Left to Right) Country superstar Pam Tillis;
General Manager of Opry Mills Jad Murphy;
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean; President and COO of
Simon Company Rick Sokolov; President of The Mills
Gregg Goodman; Commissioner of the Tennessee
Department of Tourist Development Susan Whitaker;
Councilman Phil Claiborne; and Commissioner of the
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community
Development Bill Hagerty

Opry Mills Mall Now Open

Nashville’s Opry Mills Mall, the largest outlet, value retail, dining and entertainment destination in Tennessee, reopened March 29. The exciting, Tennessee-inspired grand reopening, which was kicked off with an official ribbon cutting ceremony by state and local officials, will also feature a series of fashion, lifestyle, musical and family-friendly events running through early May. The grand re-opening events will culminate in a concert event on May 5 featuring Josh Turner.

Solar Farm Generating Interest

The State of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee officially opened the 5-megawatt Solar Farm in Brownsville. The West Tennessee Solar Farm is the largest solar facility in the state. The Solar Farm is encouraging renewable energy interests and investments across Tennessee and throughout the region while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs and increasing renewable energy generation.

The Peabody Memphis

Peabody Hotel Group Launches Duckmaster Blog

Peabody Hotel Group has launched the corporation’s first Duckmaster blog, which highlights the adventures of the world-famous Peabody Ducks and their Duckmasters from all three PHG properties. The blog, which features entries from Duckmaster Lloyd of The Peabody Little Rock, Duckmaster Anthony of The Peabody Memphis and Duckmaster Donald of The Peabody Orlando, provides visitors with an inside glance at this most prestigious position, in which there are only three in the world.

Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre Celebrates 45 Years 

Since 1967 when A. W. and Puny Chaffin opened “The Barn” Dinner Theatre, Chaffin’s has offered every audience exciting top quality professional theatre and a mouth-watering buffet. Now celebrating 45 years, Chaffin’s has been named as one of the most unique landmarks in Nashville. As Nashville’s first professional dinner theatre, Chaffin’s continues to produce top quality comedies, musicals and mysteries year around. “The Barn” remains the oldest professional dinner theatre in Nashville and Tennessee and the second oldest operating professional dinner theatre in the United States.

Princess Theater, Harriman

Princess Theater Reopens

The city of Harriman celebrated the reopening of its historic Princess Theater March 22. After first opening in 1926, the building was completely destroyed by fire in 1939. A new building was constructed the same year and continued in operation as a movie theater until 1999. The renovated theater is part of a performing arts and education center.

2012 Platinum Hospitality Award from Choice Hotels International

The Comfort Suites West hotel in Knoxville was recently announced as a recipient of the prestigious 2012 Platinum Hospitality Award from world lodging leader Choice Hotels International, Inc., franchisor of the Comfort Suites brand. Platinum Award status represents a tremendous accomplishment for a hotel and its entire staff. The hotel has demonstrated an exceptional focus on guest satisfaction and dedication to providing superior service.


Newly Installed Trail Marker in Waynesboro

Members of the Waynesboro Cumberland Presbyterian Church along with Rena Purdy, Wayne County Chamber of Commerce director, and Lee Curtis, director of program development of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, recently installed a new Civil War Trails marker in Waynesboro.   

USA BMX National Series Shines in Tennessee

 The 2012 USA BMX National season continued its series in Morristown for BMX racing. This year, Morristown was the first event to run under the USA BMX banner. With 1,403 unique participants, drawing more than 5,500 spectators each of the three days of racing, the USA BMX Volunteer Nationals was a great indicator of how the sport has grown. USA BMX's 2012 season promises to have some of the most highly contested battles in recent history and the competition in Morristown did not disappoint.


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