Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents November 2009 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

What exciting times in Tennessee tourism!  On Tuesday, Nov. 3, we officially launched the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program in Franklin, with participation by Governor Bredesen, other state commissioners, local officials and citizens.  This program is a statewide initiative encompassing all 95 counties along 15 regional trails, featuring five National Scenic Byways throughout the state. 

The Old Tennessee Trail, which originates in Nashville and goes through Williamson and Maury counties, is the inaugural trail, showcasing the rich history and attractions throughout the region. The overall Trails program is one of the most comprehensive marketing and branding initiatives ever to be launched from the state’s tourism department, promising to bring new economic impact to every region.

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Tourism Commissioner
Susan Whitaker are surrounded by state and local officials
at the unveiling of the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways
sign in Franklin, Tennessee.

Knowing how much music is a part of our state’s brand as well as our successful marketing campaigns, I am particularly delighted to announce that super group Rascal Flatts will serve as ambassadors for Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. They will be lending their voices and support to the project as part of the marketing campaign, including television spots that proclaim “Life is a Highway” and encourage visitors to “Get Your Backstage Pass” to Tennessee by traveling the Trails and Byways.

Many thanks to Commissioner Gerald Nicely and the Department of Transportation for their strategic and financial partnership with us on this project; they have committed funds to help grow and develop the program under the direction of Pam Monjar.  I also want to thank Matt Kisber of the Department of Economic and Community Development for including the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program  in his department’s Main Street and Three-Star programs. Tennessee's award-winning State Parks, administered by the Department of Environment and Conversation under the leadership of Commissioner Jim Fyke, will be on these trails, as well as the agritourism sites developed by Commissioner Ken Givens and the Department of Agriculture.

I am particularly delighted to announce that super group Rascal Flatts will serve as ambassadors for Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways.Congratulations to Commissioner Nicely and his staff on the three National Scenic Byway designations that were just announced in Washington, D.C.  The new Byways are the East Tennessee Crossing Byway, the Great River Road and Woodlands Trace.  Driving these roadways offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to experience the scenic beauty so abundant in Tennessee this time of year.  I hope you find some time this fall to enjoy Tennessee’s incredible beauty for yourself. 

Let me also congratulate Commissioner Fyke and the Department of Environment and Conservation for the opening of eight new environmentally friendly villas at Montgomery Bell State Park, recently unveiled at a ceremony last month.  These unique, contemporary accommodations serve as the first in a series of more energy-efficient and environmentally responsible cabins for the Tennessee State Parks system. Tennessee’s reputation for sustainability continues to grow because of projects such as this.

On a different, more somber note, the rock slide that occurred in late October on Interstate 40 (just across the Tennessee state line in North Carolina) is a major concern for motorists, tourists and the communities in that region.  Both the Tennessee departments of Transportation and Tourist Development are coordinating with our counterparts in North Carolina to keep motorists well informed so that appropriate re-routing can be made. As traffic increases along I-81 and I-26, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is beefing up patrols along the corridor in an effort to keep motorists safe. Motorists can find a variety of information on the closure, including a detour map, on the TDOT Web site www.tn.gov/tdot.  Overhead message boards are being utilized in Knox, Jefferson, and Sullivan counties, as well as numerous portable message signs.  Our department is providing information to motorists at the state’s Welcome Centers and Rest Areas and displaying detour information on tnvacation.com and Twitter.

Finally, November is a month for giving thanks and there is so much to be thankful for in this beautiful state. I am personally very thankful for the opportunity to serve in this position and to have such wonderful partners in creating a strong tourism economy. Thank you for making a visit to Tennessee such a joy for so many people.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday!

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways Initiative Announced by Governor Phil Bredesen

Country Superstars Rascal Flatts Lend Their Voices
to the Marketing Campaign


Tuesday in Franklin was an exceptional day for Tennessee’s tourism industry as Governor Phil Bredesen announced the launch of Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways with the debut of the Old Tennessee Trail. Commissioner Susan Whitaker announced that reigning country music group of the year Rascal Flatts will lend their voices and support to the initiative.

Led by the Department of Tourist Development, Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways is a statewide initiative encompassing all 95 counties along 15 regional trails, and featuring Tennessee’s five National Scenic Byways. The Old Tennessee Trail will highlight more than 70 significant tourism sites, promoting Davidson, Williamson and Maury Counties.

"The Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program will enhance established tourism offerings and bring greater awareness to lesser-known attractions located in communities throughout all 95 counties of our state," said Bredesen. "This idea, which originated with a private citizen, has led to a partnership between state agencies, local officials and tourism partners that holds economic opportunities for every county and will allow visitors to experience more of Tennessee's special places and scenic landscapes."

Also in attendance were Commissioner of Transportation Gerald Nicely; Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Matt Kisber; Commissioner of Environment and Conservation Jim Fyke; Commissioner of Agriculture Ken Givens; Commissioner of Revenue Reagan Farr, State Senator Jack Johnson; State Representative Ty Cobb; Mayor Rogers Anderson, Williamson County;  Mayor John Schroer, Franklin; Mayor Jim Bailey, Maury County; Mayor Bill Gentner, Columbia; Mayor Richard Hendrix, Mount Pleasant; Mayor Michael Dinwiddie, Spring Hill; Butch Spyridon, president/CEO, Nashville CVB; Mark Shore, executive director, Williamson County CVB; Brenda Pierce, executive director, Maury County CVB; Aubrey Preston, visionary preservationist from Leiper’s Fork.

Commissioner Whitaker with local officials
and dignitaries at Mt. Pleasant Grille reception.

In addition to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Department of Transportation, state agencies participating in the trails program include the Departments of Economic and Community Development, Environment and Conservation, and Agriculture.

 “The trails initiative is one of the most comprehensive marketing and branding initiatives ever to be launched from the state’s tourism department,” said Whitaker. “Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways is an opportunity to showcase tourism’s major sites as well as our state’s exceptional off-the-beaten-path attractions which are some of Tennessee’s greatest assets.”

“Tennessee is a beautiful state, and like many music celebrities, we are proud to call it home,” said Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts. “While music is showcased from Beale Street to Broadway to Bristol, its roots often come from our back roads and small towns, and as songwriters, it’s largely what inspires us. So we’re honored to be a part of this program that showcases that ‘Life Is A Highway,’ promoting life in Tennessee with scenic drives and true inspiration. And we’re certain you’ll be able to experience some incredible music on your journey, heard from general stores, front porches and other unexpected places along the way.”

The concept behind the program is to leverage Tennessee’s visitor brands including Chattanooga, Knoxville, Great Smoky Mountains, Memphis and Nashville. Self-guided driving trails extend visitor’s stays by showcasing nearby regional gems such as Jack Daniel Distillery, Trenton’s Teapot Museum, Gray Fossil Site and Museum, the homes of three American presidents, our award-winning state parks and agritourism sites.

“In Tennessee, we’re proud to have five National Scenic Byways,” said Nicely. “This new program provides a statewide byway initiative that will raise awareness for our visitors and enhance their Tennessee travel experience.”

The Department of Tourist Development will provide tourism partners with a branding starter kit including dynamic trail names and logos such as “Proud Mary,” “Ring of Fire,” and “Walking Tall,” as well as brochures and Web site development. In addition to the branding starter kit Tourist Development will support this effort through the existing media plan which includes television, print and online. Additional trails will be launched throughout the state beginning in January and throughout the spring, with the Old Tennessee Trail serving as a model.

“The trails program enhances our rural development efforts, providing a direct route for both visitors and residents to Tennessee’s main streets,” said Kisber. “Motivating visitors to get out and explore some of Tennessee’s small town treasures will benefit our tourism communities and our state.”                     

This grassroots concept to develop trails with a focus on history and attractions was brought to state officials by a private citizen, Aubrey Preston. Preston is a history buff and visionary preservationist from Leiper’s Fork.

The second tier of the celebration and announcement took place later in the day in Maury County at the Mt. Pleasant Grille. Speakers included Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker; Brenda Pierce, executive director of the Maury County Convention & Visitors Bureau; Michelle Williams, director of the Community Development Commission of Mount Pleasant; Jim Barrier, owner of the Mt. Pleasant Grille; Aubrey Preston of Leiper’s Fork.


Natchez Trace Parkway

National  Scenic Byways Showcased Beautifully in Tennessee

Three Tennessee roadways are now nationally recognized as National Scenic Byways, which brings the state’s total to five.  This is the first time in 11 years the state has had this very special distinction. The newly named National Scenic Byways include the East Tennessee Crossing, the Great River Road in west Tennessee and Woodlands Trace. The other two byways are the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Cherohala Skyway.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made the announcement at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 16.  Benefits of the designation include eligibility to apply for federal competitive grants; America’s Byways branding; national and international marketing through the federal program; and technical assistance from the National Scenic Byways program staff.  Created in 1991, the National Scenic Byways Program is a collaborative effort to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States.

The East Tennessee Crossing Byway follows U.S. Highway 25E from the TN/NC state line to the KY/TN state line where it links to the Wilderness Road Heritage Highway.  It passes through Newport, White Pine, Morristown, Bean Station, Tazewell and Cumberland Gap.  Attractions along the Byway include Crockett’s Tavern Museum, Historic Bean Station, the Clinch Mountain Overlook and the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum of Lincoln Memorial University. 

The route follows the original route of the Cherokee Warriors Path, the Wilderness Road across Clinch Mountain and the Cumberland Gap, the Dixie Highway of the Civil War period and Thunder Road, which is well known in moonshining lore.

The Great River Road is 185 miles long and travels through West Tennessee skirting the  Mississippi River and is part of the national route that travels along Mississippi from Minnesota to Louisiana.  The Tennessee segment follows highway 78 at the TN/KY state line to State Route 181 to State Route 88 where it joins U.S. Highway 51 near Dyersburg and travels on into Memphis.  The route passes through Tiptonville, Ripley, Henning and Memphis, Tennessee.  Attractions along the route include Reelfoot Lake, Fort Pillow State Historic Park, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, Mud Island River Park and Museum and the many other sights and sounds of Memphis.

The Woodlands Trace runs along a ridge of land between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.  Woodlands Trace is a beautiful, easy drive in rolling terrain with opportunities to pull off and explore on your own or at developed interpretive facilities.  Attractions along the route include the Land Between the Lakes, the South Bison Range Overlook, the Homeplace 1850 Living History Farm and the Great Western Furnace Ruins.

Tourist Development and TDOT Work to Communicate Scenic Detour after 1-40 Closure

Erwin Area

Sometimes unexpected events can reap great benefits.  That could be the case with the re-routing of traffic on Interstate 40 because of the rock slide near the North Carolina state line.  Travelers will have the opportunity to discover beautiful, scenic spots in Tennessee that were totally unexpected.

In Tennessee, I-40 is closed in both directions at mile marker 451 (Waterville) due to the massive rock slide in late October at mile marker 2.6 in North Carolina. Several state departments, including tourism, transportation and the highway patrol are working together to keep motorists informed about the interstate closure.

The Department of Tourist Development is providing information to motorists at the state’s various welcome centers and rest areas. Detour information and tourism highlights along the detour are provided on tnvacation.com and to tourism followers via Twitter. The transportation department is working to inform motorists of the closure through a variety of mechanisms, including a detour map on the TDOT Web Site www.tn.gov/tdot

Overhead message signs in Knoxville, Jefferson and Sullivan counties, as well as numerous portable message signs, are being used to advise motorists of the closure.  Travelers can also utilize highway advisory radio on AM frequency 1620 in selected areas along I-40 and I-81 and call a statewide 511 message providing alternate route information. TDOT is tweeting the closure information to followers via the TN511 and other Twitter sites.

As travelers are re-routing through I-26, they experience breath-taking fall foliage, especially the drive through the Cherokee National Forest.  For travelers headed to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, I-81 will route right back to I-40. A scenic route via 321 or 441 is also available.

Cocke County officials are getting the word out that all exits are open in the county. Travelers are encouraged to take the scenic route through Cocke County, via Hwy. 25 and 70.

Though the rock slide has provided an inconvenience, it has also provided an opportunity to plan a trip through beautiful towns and byways for an experience never before imagined.  Tennessee has 13 Welcome Centers, at major borders across the state, staffed with hospitable staff to assist the traveling public.

Montgomery Bell State Park Opens Villas

Officials Participate in Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Villas are energy efficient, environmentally responsible accommodation

Tennessee State Parks unveiled eight new environmentally friendly villas at Montgomery Bell State Park at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in late October.

These unique, contemporary accommodations serve as a first in a series of more energy efficient and environmentally responsible cabins to open within the Tennessee State Parks system in the coming months.  An environmental focal point of the project is the geothermal system.  Each villa has a 450-foot well to capture the energy of the earth to generate heating and cooling, using 40-50 percent less energy and minimizing energy-driven pollution.  Among many other benefits, the geothermal system also produces free hot water in the summer.  Other energy and environmental practices at the villas include the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, outdoor furniture made from recycled plastic and indoor/outdoor recycling equipment.

“The villas at Montgomery Bell serve as an example of Tennessee State Parks commitment to ensure our visitors enjoy outstanding accommodations, while leaving a lighter footprint on nature,” said Commissioner Fyke.

Nashville Shines with National Preservation Conference

The National Preservation Conference, organized by the National Trust for
Historic Preservation and held in Nashville,  Oct. 13-17 was a major hit.  There were approximately 2,000 conference attendees throughout downtown Nashville and touring several outlining counties while getting previews of some of the region's Discover Tennessee trails.

Governor Bredesen along with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean welcomed the group at the Opening Ceremony, held at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

The theme, "Sustaining the Future in Harmony with our Pasts," was a focal point for the more than 100 educational and field sessions throughout the four-day event.  Tennessee's Sustainable Tourism team of Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, was pivotal in the development of this successful conference, serving on several educational sessions and major events.  Their joint workshop, "Sustainability makes both Dollars & Sense" attracted a packed room while another tourism-sponsored session on "Building a Local Ethic for Sustainability," highlighted best practices across Tennessee, from Blount County to the Mississippi River Corridor.

Tennessee's leadership in Civil War Sesquicentennial planning also was emphasized by field sessions, workshops, and major events.  Robert Hicks, a member of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, gave an important address on why the Civil War matters as he addressed the issues coming out his new book, A Separate Country, at a night-time speech at the Downtown Presbyterian Church.  The state's musical heritage was promoted throughout the conference, with performances from classical songs to bluegrass to Americana to blues to rock-n-roll.  The closing plenary featured a rousing performance of gospel and classical songs from the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Memphis the Musical Debuts in New York

Beale Street, Memphis


The famous Peabody Ducks strutted on the red carpet at the premiere of “Memphis,” the musical on Broadway.  The Memphis CVB, officials from area attractions and chamber members were all on hand in New York for the White Way debut.

The Broadway production is about the birth of rock -n- roll in the 1950s.  Memphis follows the life of a white disk jockey named Huey Calhoon whose love for “race records” creates a new audience for African-American music and brings him to the feet of a beautiful black singer named Felicia Farrell.

The musical debuted on Oct. 19 and has received impressive reviews.  Elisabeth Vinceuitelli of the New York Post gave it ***1/2 stars.  “An exuberant musical with classic values.”  Michael Kuchwara of AP said,” "The exhilarating new musical shaking the Shubert Theatre is the essence of what a Broadway musical should be."

The composer is David Bryan and lyricists are David Bryan and Joe DiPietro.  The original cast includes Chad Kimball, Montego Glover, J. Bernard Calloway, James Monroe Iglehart, Cass Morgan, Derrick Baskin and Michael McGrath.    The production was directed by Christoher Ashley and the choregrapher was Sergio Trujilto.

Parks and Tourism Partnership

State Parks Mascot


The Department of Tourist Development (TDTD) teamed up with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to distribute information to attendees of the University of Tennessee football game on October 10.  

With more than 103,000 football fans attending the contest, the booth was very well attended.  Posted a few yards from the entrance to Neyland Stadium, the Tennessee State Parks booth was along the highly trafficked area and items included marketing materials, a corn snake and the Ramble, the official state park mascot.  State Parks and the TDTD's Division of Community and Industry Relations distributed 1,000 Tennessee Vacation Guides and Tennessee State Park brochures, 1,500 park discount coupons and 2,500 UT orange koozies with the State Parks logo.  

"There's not a better way to promote state parks and Tennessee tourism than at a UT football game!  What a great experience for the rangers and also the fans that came out for the game.  We're glad Tourism came and joined in the promoting with us," said Monica Johnson.   Johnson, a Park Interpretive Ranger at Cumberland Mountain State Park along with four other park rangers and Tourism's Middle Tennessee Regional Manager Derrick Smith distributed the Tennessee information to the fans.

TDEC Commissioner Jim Fyke and Assistant Commissioner Andy Lyon both visited the booth prior to kickoff of the UT win over visiting University of Georgia. The partnership of distributing State Parks brochures and Tennessee Vacation Guides this year has included regional managers Dave Jones working at University of Tennessee Lady Vols games and Marty Marbry assisting at Memphis Grizzlies games.

Sustainable Tourism Workshops in West Tennessee

There will be two West Tennessee Sustainable Tourism Workshops, November 16 and 17 in Jackson and Memphis, respectively. There is no admission charge and all local, county and state officials as well as tourism partners are invited to attend.
The first workshop will begin at 9:30 a.m. on November 16 at Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store and Restaurant in Casey Jones Village,  Jackson, Tennessee. Edward McMahon, senior resident fellow, ULI/Charles Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development, The Urban Land Institute,  is the featured speaker. Other participants include Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Assistant Commissioner Andy Lyon, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation.
The second workshop will begin at 9:30 a.m. on November 17 at the Pink Palace Museum  in Memphis.  This workshop features Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor, Green Lodging News. Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker will be joined by Assistant Commissioner Andy Lyon, Tennessee Dept. of Environment & Conservation, to lead the day's events.  Other professionals in the field will make presentations and participate in panel discussions throughout the day's events at both workshops. 

Additionally, the department will host another Geogreen Webinar on GeoTourism from 2 - 3 p.m. CST, December 1. The webinar will feature Jonathan B. Tourtellot, director, and geotourism editor, National Geographic Traveler, and Cheryl Hargrove, president, the HTC Group.
For information about attending the sessions or registering for the webinar, please contact Patricia Gray: patricia.gray@tn.gov or (615) 741-9004.
Recently Commissioner Whitaker was a presenter at California's first statewide summit on Sustainability.  Her presentation was well-received and the State of Tennessee was praised for leading the way in tourism sustainability.

Civil War Trails Update

A dedication ceremony for the Civil War Trails was held in Jefferson County in mid October.  The event, held at Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Talbott, TN, was a major community attraction.

Three markers were dedicated around Jefferson County to commemorate the stories of hundreds of soldiers, both of the blue and the gray, buried in graves unmarked and many forgotten, as part of the Civil War Trails program.

During 1863-64, "There were more than 20,000 troops on both sides stationed in this county, skirmishing and engaging through one of the coldest winters on record," Bob Jarnagin, county historian said. "This is their story."

One marker, dedicated in the cemetery of Ebenezer United Methodist Church in the Talbott community, marks the site of the Battle of Kimbrough's Crossroads, where Confederate soldiers forced Union troops into retreat Jan. 16, 1864. Two more commemorate the Battle of Hay's Ferry near Dandridge and the Battle of Mossy Creek in what's now Jefferson City.

"It's very gratifying, because our society is moving toward forgetting a lot of the things that have happened," said Roger "Butternut" Kelley, a Civil War re-enactor. "Hopefully future generations will see this and be able to remember what happened here."

The county expects to place two more signs in the coming weeks and at least another five next year, Jarnagin said.

The Civil War Trails program originated in Virginia during the 1990s and now covers more than 860 sites in five states. That number includes 148 so far in Tennessee, Officials hope to see at least 300 markers placed around the state in time for the war's 150th anniversary in 2011.

Education at Work in Tourism

Recently two major divisions of the Tennessee Education Department’s Career & Technical Division held a review of their programs of study, including Trade and Industrial Education and Marketing. This review sets in place courses students will take in the next five years.  Dr. Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, assistant commissioner of community and industry relations, who heads up the department’s education initiative, represented Tennessee’s tourism industry at both meetings.

The process involved reviewing current programs and student requirements to determine curriculum for students in the future.  Future activities involve meeting with instructors and other educational stakeholders to set a quality, rigorous curriculum for students interested in tourism.

Together Trade and Industrial Education and Marketing have more than 100,000 students statewide, and includes the culinary arts programs as well as marketing, sports marketing and advertising.   A course such as Foundations of the Hospitality Industry would involve skill sets, appropriate work readiness, standards of competency and ensuring the course meets industry needs. 

Tourism organizations’ involvement goes beyond coursework, it also includes making the educational profession aware of other opportunities in tourism.  For example a number of tourism attractions will participate in the Career Fair that will be held Nov. 6 in Nashville at the Convention Center and Hotel Olympics at the Nashville City Auditorium on Nov. 17.

Tourism’s educational initiative provides a wealth of information for students, counselors and parents as well as support for the industry in a variety of ways including careers and visitors.  One instructor wrote, “I teach 7th grade social studies at Page Middle School in Franklin, TN.  I wonder if you could send me a class set of your wonderful TN vacation planning guides to share with my students?  They are sure to instigate some family vacations!” They did!

Facts & Trends

U.S. Travel Industry to Add 90,000 American Jobs in 2010

Modest Increases in Travel Volume, Spending Demonstrate Industry's
Unique Ability to Quickly Create Employment Opportunities

The U.S. Travel Association has announced that projected modest 2010 increases in leisure, business and international inbound travel will enable the industry to add nearly 90,000 American jobs. Leisure travel is expected to rise 2.0 percent, business travel is projected to increase by 2.5 percent and international inbound travel will increase by nearly 3.0 percent. These job gains come on the heels of 400,000 combined travel industry job losses in 2008 and 2009.

"The travel industry shares President Obama's goal of putting Americans back to work. Our industry is uniquely capable of adapting to economic upswings and quickly adding tens of thousands of jobs," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "What we have announced is based upon modest increases in travel. Given its immense potential, we call on the Administration and Members of Congress to build a plan for economic recovery that drives significant increases in travel."  For more information go to USTravel.org

Great Smoky Mountain National Park Ranks Tops in Visitor Spending

According to a recently-released National Park Service (NPS) study, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only the nation’s most visited national park, it also tops the 391 national park units in visitor spending.  The study estimates that in 2008 the Park’s 9 million visitors spent over $800 million in the gateway communities surrounding the Park.

The study also estimates that 14,569 local jobs were supported by Park visitor spending.

The top five NPS units in terms of spending generated were Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TN/NC) with $800 million, Grand Canyon (AZ) at $423 million, Yellowstone (MT/WY/ID) at $345 million, Blue Ridge Parkway (VA/NC) with $342 million and Yosemite (CA) with $292 million.

“Early planners recognized that nearly all of the infrastructure to serve the new visitors could be developed outside the Park,” said  Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.  “By choosing not to build hotels, restaurants, gas stations and the like inside the Park, we have been able to minimize the impact of those facilities on the Park while maximizing the opportunity for local communities to offer whatever goods and service visitors might want or need.”

The entire study can be found at: http://web4.canr.msu.edu/mgm2/

Mark Your Calendar Now for the
2010 Governor’s Conference on Tourism

MeadowView Conference Resort, Kingsport


SEPTEMBER 22-24, 2010
Kingsport, Tennessee

Conference sponsors include: NETTA (Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, Kingsport Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bristol Tennessee-Virginia Chamber of Commerce/Bristol Convention & Visitors Bureau, Greene County Partnership, Elizabethton Tourism Development Council, Rogersville-Hawkins County Chamber of Commerce, Johnson City Convention & Visitors Bureau, Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce and Historic Jonesborough.

Welcome Center

George Stewart

Employee of the Month

In today's ever transforming work environment, many people change career locations several times.  Not the case for October's Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month.

George Stewart, Manager of the I-40 Shelby County Welcome Center in Memphis is celebrating his 35th year this month with the State of Tennessee!  George started his career at the I-55 Shelby County Welcome Center in Memphis as a Building Maintenance Worker and was promoted to a Building Maintenance Worker II at I-55 in February of 1994.

After serving 20 years at the I-55 Welcome Center, and a brief stint serving as interim Manager, he was promoted in 2003 to Manager at the I-40 Welcome Center, where he still works today.

"I really have enjoyed my experience at the Welcome Centers," said George.  "Ray Page, the Director of Welcome Centers at the time, gave me an opportunity to become the Center's manager and it has been wonderful working with a great team."  He further stated, "It has also been a true pleasure working with my new director, Barry Young, who has provided very strong guidance and great support."

To commemorate his 35 years of service, George received a special plaque from Governor Phil Bredesen.  Please congratulate George for this special milestone in his career with the Department of Tourist Development and the State of Tennessee!

Industry Applause

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

Rock City Pink Ladies

PINK Survivor Birdhouses Were Released at Rock City Gardens
Rock City Gardens is proud to present the brand new special edition "Survivor Birdhouse," inspired by Chattanooga's own Scenic City Survivors. A portion of the birdhouse proceeds goes to benefit Scenic City Survivors and the MaryEllen Locher Foundation® in aiding their efforts for breast cancer awareness, as well as support for women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Tennessee Aquarium Receives NOAA Ocean Education Grant

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, has chosen to recognize and support the Tennessee Aquarium's ongoing educational efforts with a $1.275 million dollar grant to match dollars contributed by other Aquarium supporters.  This was one of eleven NOAA grants totaling more than $9 million that will create new education projects in aquariums across the nation. The projects will educate visitors about the ocean and encourage better stewardship of the marine environment.

Casey Jones Museum Grand Opening is Big News
The opening of the Casey Jones Museum garnered national attention for Jackson. Story’s in USA Today, CBS News, ABC news have heightened interest in the Casey Jones legend. Railroad engineer Casey Jones rode to glory and into American folklore trying to stop his Illinois Central passenger train before it hit a stalled freight train in 1900. His was the only death that night at Vaughan, MS. 

Rock & Soul Museum, Memphis

Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum Launches New Web Site
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum has launched its newly re-designed Web site, www.memphisrocknsoul.org.  Their goal was to re-create the site so that it is more visually compelling and improve its usefulness as a marketing tool. The new site also promotes the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum’s social networking features and an easily accessible online store and photos from the museum.

Adventure Store to Open in Gatlinburg
The former Open Hearth Restaurant in Gatlinburg is being re-developed into the Nantahala Outdoor Center Great Outpost. When completed, the former mountain lodge-style restaurant on Gatlinburg’s Parkway will become one of the largest stores in Gatlinburg and among the only LEED-certified retail locations in the Smokies.   The Great Outpost is expected to open next spring.

Murfreesboro Selected to Host 2011 US Youth Soccer Region III Championships
US Youth Soccer is proud to announce the 2011 US Youth Soccer Region III (Southern) Championships will be held at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro, June 16-22, 2011. The Region III Championships is the second leg of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, the country's most prestigious national youth soccer tournament. The event is hosted by the Tennessee State Soccer Association in partnership with Murfreesboro Soccer Club, the City of Murfreesboro and the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

Ryman Auditorium, Nashville


Ryman Auditorium Named a 'Favorite Place'
Former Vice President Al Gore named The historic Ryman Auditorium as one of his favorite places. As part of their Google Maps project, Google invited local experts and trendsetters from cities around the world to share their favorite places.

Smokies Field Trip for Students Across the U.S.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is gearing up for a virtual field trip by students from around the country. Schools in 40 states have already signed up for the new interactive Web site showcasing the  variety of plants, animals and ecosystems through a series of learning modules including games, videos and lesson plans. The National Park Foundation-supported program is geared to elementary and middle school students.

National Civil Rights
Museum, Memphis

National Civil Rights Museum Renovations on Track

The National Civil Rights Museum is ready to start the renovation process. With a price tag estimated at approximately $15 million, the renovations will include interpretive exhibits in the museum courtyard  and up-to-date electronics that will enhance or replace parts of the museum that have not changed since it opened in 1991.  The proposal suggests moving a 7,000-pound bronze sculpture from the lobby into a courtyard where the art would join audio and video stations to help orient visitors to the most comprehensive look at civil rights in the nation.

STS Top 20

The prestigious Southeast Tourism Society has designated two additional Gatlinburg Department of Tourism entertainment programs as Top 20 Events for 2009. Gatlinburg’s Veteran’s Day Celebration in November and the 34th annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in December have achieved Top 20 status from among multiple entries submitted to STS.

2009 IFEA Pinnacle Award Winners
Congratulations to the many Tennessee IFEA Pinnacle award winners. Please go to www.ifea.com for a PDF of the complete listing of the 49 Tennessee awards.

The following is a breakdown of award distribution:  

City of Oak Ridge = 2   
Friends of the Festival (Riverbend Festival/Chattanooga)  = 9
Clarksville-Montgomery County CVB (Rivers and Spires Festival) = 2
Gatlinburg Special Events = 11
Memphis in May International Festival = 14
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events = 5
Sevierville Chamber of Commerce = 6


Winterfest in Sevier County
This year Winterfest celebrates its 20th anniversary.  It is a great milestone and demonstrates a true partnership among the three major cities in Sevier County-Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.  It is one of the region’s most successful ventures.

Quote of the Month

"Dance like no one is watching, Love like you'll never be hurt, Sing like no one is listening, Live like it's heaven on earth."
- William Purkey


Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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