Don’t you just love spring? Catching those first glimpses of brilliant color popping up through the ground and on the trees just makes me smile. It’s energizing which is a good thing since new projects are moving a mile a minute here in Tourist Development!
One new development is the front-page redesign of tnvacation.com. Already an award-winning site, the new enhancements include video segments from Tennessee Crossroads television series, a video itinerary featuring Dolly Parton, and a new Trip Planner for sharing information. A wider format, new navigational structure and interactive maps are also part of the upgrades.
Some of you have already had a “sneak preview” of the brand new television commercial starring country music celebrity Kix Brooks. The spot, now showing on the website, continues our “personal perspective” marketing message and concludes with the official introduction of the interactive “My Tennessee Story” concept now featured on tnvacation.com. The commercial is currently airing in Tennessee’s 11 feeder markets which include Atlanta, Birmingham, Cincinnati, Greenville-Spartanburg, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Paducah and St. Louis.
This week we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorating the 40th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis. The National Civil Rights Museum, birthed out of this tragedy, helps visitors understand the Civil Rights Movement and how it influenced social change in America and around the world.
Also this week 20 national travel writers representing publications including The History Channel Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, AAA Home & Away, and Better Homes & Gardens, will arrive in Middle East Tennessee and be immersed in that region for five days. Special thanks to our METTC partners and Geiger & Associates for providing a world-class Tennessee experience for the participating journalists.
The April issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine features a wonderful new Appalachian Driving Trails Map, developed in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission. Unveiled at a special reception in Washington, D.C., the multi-state map includes the Tennessee Overhill’s “Furs and Factories” and NETTA’s “Tales and Trails” as well as listings for Natchez Trace Parkway, Lookout Mountain Parkway, and Southern Highlands Trails. Linda Caldwell, of Tennessee Overhill, Phyllis Qualls-Brooks of Tennessee Tourism, and Rick Meredith and Paula Lovett of Economic and Community Development represented Tennessee at this prestigious event.
April continues with even more opportunities to promote our great state including the Tennessee Sampler event in Chicago, April 14-18. As of press time, 90+ tourism staff and industry partners will be attending.
And, finally, the Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit is set for April 28-29 at the Knoxville Convention Center. If you have not registered, let me urge you to do so. This event is shaping up to be a significant milestone in Tennessee Tourism’s history.
Yes, it’s a wonderfully busy time for all of us in tourism, but don’t forget to take some of that time to enjoy the fresh beauty of spring—then stand back and get ready to welcome millions of new and old friends to Tennessee!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Commemorating a King
The Man and the Mission
The eyes of the nation will be on Memphis during the first week of April as that city takes the lead in the celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., commemorating the 40th anniversary of his April 4, 1968, assassination.
The National Civil Rights Museum was built around the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated. The Museum strives to provide visitors with an understanding of the man and his mission. Through collections, exhibitions and educational programs, it chronicles key episodes of the American Civil Rights Movement and how it inspired participation in civil and human rights efforts globally. The Museum had its official groundbreaking in 1987, and on September 28, 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum opened its doors to visitors.
Among the events taking place is a special appreciation ceremony for the Memphis sanitation workers. This group helped start the labor movement when they took a life-changing stand and declared to the world, “I am a man.” Dr. King was in Memphis to show support for the sanitation workers’ strike; many of whom are still alive.
Another event at the Museum will feature local and national civil rights leaders who will share their stories about Dr. King and their role in history. Clarence Jones, Dr. King's speech writer and attorney, will be among the program participants.
The Museum is partnering with the Memphis Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and other organizations, to produce these events, many of which will be held at the Museum. Other activities will be held at locations throughout the city, including the University of Memphis, the Mayor’s Office, the Memphis Cook Convention Center, and the Cannon Center of the Performing Arts.
For a listing of activities, go to civilrightsmuseum.org.
April Features Tennessee Sampler and Sustainable Tourism Summit
Tennessee Tourism staff members and more than 80 industry partners will participate in the Tennessee Sampler April 14-18 in Chicago. Tennessee representatives will conduct sales calls to AAA and group tour operator offices in Chicago and surrounding region. In addition, Tennessee tourism’s PR representatives will meet with journalists in the region, including representatives from newspapers, TV, radio and Internet media.
On Thursday evening, Tennessee will host a trade show event featuring more than 50 partner booths, Tennessee’s great Southern cuisine and trip giveaways. Featured entertainment will be Memphis blues and soul band A440, known for their soul-stirring style of music that strongly connects with Chicagoans.
For more information, go to http://www.tnvacation.com/tnsampler/
Inaugural Sustainable Tourism Summit - "Protect-Preserve-Grow"
Agenda now available on-line
The inaugural Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit is the pilot program for statewide sustainable tourism planning in both Tennessee and North Carolina. Sustainable tourism, defined as sustaining the environment, culture and heritage of a region, while at the same time sustaining the economic growth through tourism, is a topic of great interest to all citizens.
The inaugural Summit is a joint initiative of Tennessee and North Carolina’s tourism offices, and will be held April 28-29, 2008, at the Knoxville Convention Center. The event leads up to the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the yearlong celebration in 2009.
Topics will include "Why Sustainable Tourism Makes Both Dollars and Sense" and Preserve and Protect: How to Keep a Regions Sense of Place for Future Generations." Some of the highly recognized, confirmed speakers are Gov. Phil Bredesen, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior vice-president of research for the Travel Industry Association of America and Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler.
The event will enable the Great Smoky Mountains gateway communities to learn about options and resources in building sustainable tourism assets and feature experts who will provide resources, best practices and examples from around the country pertaining to sustainable tourism. In addition, gateway communities will be encouraged to identify specific “sustainable projects” and implement a plan for community action. Individuals interested in green and sustainable tourism practices are encouraged to attend this event.
For more information, contact the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s Lee Curtis, director of program development, at (615) 741-9045 or Lee.Curtis@state.tn.us, or contact Patricia Gray, research development coordinator, at (615) 741-9004 or Patricia.Gray@state.tn.us. The registration deadline is April 14, and attendance is limited. www.sustainabletourismsummit.com
Tennessee Tourism Professionals Offered Scholarships for STS Marketing College
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, together with the Official Tennessee State Vacation Guide publisher Miles Media, will be offering two full scholarships to the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) Marketing College to tourism marketing professionals in the state of Tennessee.
The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast U.S. From July 27 – August 1, 2008, the courses will be held at the campus of North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, GA. During this week, students 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 (TMP) 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 2008 session. The scholarships will be awarded based on criteria established by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development which will encompass both financial need and professional aptitude. For an application, please contact Mary Steadman, email@example.com. For more information on STS Marketing College visit www.southeasttourism.org/marketing_college.html
26th Annual Travel South Showcase Successfully Promotes Tourism in the South
More than 600 travel professionals from throughout the country met for the 26th Annual Travel South Showcase, March 1 – 5, in Gulfport-Biloxi, Ms. The 600 travel professionals consisted of 148 travel buyers, 25 travel service providers, 24 editorial media attendees, 12 state tourism offices and 273 appointment taking suppliers. Each experienced four days of appointments, tours and networking opportunities, which brought over $500,000 of economic impact to the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Tourism directors held official briefing sessions with group travel and media representatives, presenting new statewide tourism initiatives. The 273 destinations and attractions representatives participated in four days of sales meetings with travel buyers from across the United States. All sessions led to one goal – to bring more tourism to the South, and for our contingency, to Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development sent four representatives to the Travel South Showcase – Jennifer Spence, Cindy Dupree, Kristi Driver and Jennifer Littlejohn. Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker also attended Showcase. Whitaker is Travel South USA’s 2007-2008 Chairman of the Board and represented Tennessee and the additional Southern states through presentations, interviews and meetings with attendees.
Travel South USA is the official regional destination marketing organization for the Southern United States, representing the 12 states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Their mission is to promote, foster and encourage travel to and within these 12 states.
Facts & Trends
A recent article in USA Today provided more good news about the tourism industry for states that have embraced tourism as part of their economic diversity. According to the article ‘How’s the Economy in Your Hometown” by Barbara Hagenbaugh, “depending on a state’s business mix, factors such as high agricultural prices, strong tourism or a heavy reliance on exports are keeping some state economies growing. Across the country, there are really no weak pockets in tourism.” Tourism is the #1 non-farm industry in Tennessee, generating 13.4 billion dollars as of 2006.
National Geographic Features Tennessee
Tennessee Overhill’s Furs and Factories and NETTA’s Tales & Trails are the featured sites in the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and National Geographic Society’s new Appalachian Driving Tours Map. Other sites in Tennessee included in the map are the Natchez Trace Parkway, Lookout Mountain Parkway and the Southern Highlands Trails.
Commissioned by the ARC, the map features 28 unique driving trails of the Appalachian Region that lead to a broad array of historical, archaeological, cultural and scenic sites. A complete story on the project will be in May’s e-newsletter.
SmartFIX40 project starts Midnight May 1
I40 will have a new temporary route through Knoxville beginning at midnight, Thursday May 1. The Tennessee Department of Transportation will close a segment of Interstate 40 in downtown Knoxville between James White Parkway (exit 388) and Hall of Fame Drive (exit 389). The closure is part of the final phase of the SmartFIX40 project. That section of roadway will be closed for 14 months and the project is scheduled to be completed on or before June 30, 2009. The closure will allow the construction team to work around-the-clock and will save almost 23 months of construction time.
Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit…Agenda now on-line
For a complete view of the inaugural Sustainable Tourism Summit go on-line to www.sustainabletourismsummit.com. The event is scheduled for April 28-29 at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Welcome Centers Focus on National Tourism Week
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is geared up to celebrate the 25th Annual National Tourism Week on May 10-18, 2008. National Tourism Week is a collective effort to promote the power of travel through customized events in communities nationwide. The goal is to enhance the country's economy, security and perception, and recognize the cultural and social benefits created by travel and tourism.
To celebrate this year’s theme, "Discover Great American Traditions", the Tennessee Welcome Centers invite tourism partners from around the state to welcome travelers to Tennessee.
All 13 Welcome Centers are inviting Destination Marketing Organizations to come out to talk with visitors, giveaway promotional items and refreshments, and share in a week of Southern hospitality. Last year’s event was very successful at each of the Welcome Centers. Some of the highlights included appearances by attraction’s mascots, interpreters dressed in period attire and Tennessee product giveaways.
“This is a great opportunity for our partners to have the chance to talk with potential visitors at the beginning of tourism season, so we encourage as many as possible to participate”, said Barry Young, Director of Welcome Centers.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Museum of African American Music, Art and Culture Receives Funds from AT&T
AT&T Inc. has announced a $120,000 contribution to support the Museum of African American Music, Art and Culture to be built in Nashville. The contribution is part of AT&T’s on-going efforts to support cultural institutions in the state of Tennessee. Earlier this year, AT&T contributed $50,000 to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis to support its national storytelling event in early April.
Beverly Robertson and Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson Adds Museum Work to his Credits
National Civil Rights Museum President & CEO Beverly Robertson takes a break with Oscar nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson during the Hampton Hotel’s “Save-a-Landmark” event at the Museum. Hundreds of Hampton volunteers worked at the Museum kicking off a major long-term $100,000 refurbishment.
Titans Go Turf
It looks like Tennessee Titans fans could start parking in a downtown forest if funding comes through. The Titans agreed to a pilot project that would replace the asphalt in one of LP Field's parking lots with a turf-like surface and 60 to 75 shade trees. The project is part of an initial, five-year riverfront redevelopment plan.
Four Locations Added Nature Viewing Trail
Four Cumberland County sites have been included on the Cumberland Plateau Nature Viewing Trail. Black Mountain, the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, Cumberland Mountain State Park and the Obed River Park Arboretum were selected by the Alliance for the Cumberlands during the third annual conference. More than 75 sites within the 25 counties of the Cumberland Plateau region were nominated. Fermata Inc., a nature tourism consulting group, evaluated the sites for the Alliance, subjecting each to a rigorous set of assessment criteria including aesthetics, appeal, significance, safety and presence of cultural and historic assets.
TN Family Fun Vacations
Family.com, a Web site brought to you by Disney, is a new site that includes a feature that ranks the 50 best family vacations in America. Tennessee ranks high with Nashville, Memphis and Chattanooga all making the list.
TN Bed & Breakfast Favorites
BnBFinder.com, an online bed and breakfast directory, named two Tennessee B&B’s in their annual Guest Favorite Awards. Selected for its guest rooms and personal touches was Clarksville’s Magnolia House. Sevierville’s Braeside Inn was noted for its beautiful setting and warm atmosphere.
Casey Jones Village
Casey Jones Village is Reader’s Choice
The Jackson Sun newspaper held a special reception recently to announce the Reader’s Choice award- winners. Casey Jones Village was voted "Best Local Attraction" for 2008 having received that distinction every year of the competition. Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store received the 2008 "Best Overall Restaurant". It has received this award the past four years. The Old Country Store also won “Best Southern’ Cookin.”
Crossville-Cumberland County Wins CBJ Ovation Award.
The Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce has been awarded the Cumberland Business Journal Ovation Award for its support of local businesses and industries, while also promoting the community as a popular destination for tourists and retirees alike.
Dickson Renaissance Center
Renaissance Center Emmy
Dickson’s Renaissance Center Multimedia Department won three regional Emmy Awards. Two were awarded for their work on "Tennessee’s Wild Side," a popular outdoor series produced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The third Emmy was awarded for an educational program about the role of Fort Donelson in the Civil War.
Williamson County CVB Announces New Director
Mark Shore has been selected as the new executive director for the Williamson County CVB. Shore has more than 22 years of experience in the tourism industry, most recently serving as head of the Charlottesville Albemarle CVB in Charlottesville, VA.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You