Dear Tourism Partners,
Springtime in Tennessee, with its roller coaster ride of sunshine and storms, is such a welcome time of seasonal change for me, with new life beginning to emerge everywhere you look. There is great beauty about to be unleashed and enjoyed, and with it, the need to nurture and care for what we have been so bountifully given in this state. Our stewardship is essential to the growth and preservation of this natural beauty for today’s enjoyment and for future generations.
That call to stewardship has been embraced by the tourism industry of Tennessee. It’s hard to believe that it was a year ago this month that the Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit was held in Knoxville. With over 500 participants and 70 speakers, the Tennessee tourism industry discussed the need to sustain the environment, culture, and heritage of our state, thereby sustaining its economic growth through tourism. This conference and its resulting body of work contained in the Toolkit and new Sustainable Tourism website (www.tnsustainabletourism.com) has received national attention and is now highlighted by the U.S. Travel Association’s Green Tourism website as a best practice.
That’s a great start, but it’s just the beginning. Since last year, we have seen a number of local and regional initiatives that have advanced sustainability in our industry. Local communities and tourism businesses have planned and implemented many specific measures, and the Department of Tourist Development has partnered with the Department of Environment and Conservation to do Sustainable Tourism workshops across the state. Be sure to look for more information in this newsletter about how you can participate in one of these upcoming workshops.
Governor Bredesen spoke of stewardship in a different context during his FY 2009-2010 Budget Address this past month but there were similar themes in his message to all Tennesseans. He challenged each citizen, state employee, business leader and legislator to maintain a long-term vision for success by focusing on what it will take to leave our state a little better for those who follow behind us.
Present and future growth for Tennessee depends upon wise stewardship of our state’s resources today – in education, job creation investment and an improved government that makes better use of taxpayer dollars. If we attend to those areas now, our children will enjoy an even better Tennessee.
All of us at the Department of Tourist Development have taken these words to heart and are looking diligently for ways to improve the way we do the business of promoting Tennessee in the most cost-effective ways possible. We have a great story to tell and, given the economic environment, need to become very good at making the most of the resources we have to get that great story out to the traveling public.
We stand ready to assist you in doing the same thing in your own tour and travel-related industries. Our Web site, cooperative marketing opportunities, Vacation Guide and other services can be important assets for your own businesses. Please let us know how we can help you to take advantage of them.
We are all champions of tourism in our communities. Our joint commitment to stewardship of the tourism assets we have been given will enable us to grow this industry and its positive impact on our economy and resources.
Thank you for working so diligently to keep Tennessee such an amazing and beautiful place to visit.
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Tennessee Civil War Trails: Makes a Stop at the Niota Depot
The town of Niota had a reason to celebrate on the first day of April. The Niota Depot, the longest standing train depot in Tennessee, became the first site in Southeast Tennessee to join the Tennessee Civil War Trails. To commemorate the day and the installation of the historical marker, Niota Mayor Martha Walden and McMinn County Mayor John Gentry both spoke during the program to a packed crowd of community members and Niota Elementary School’s eighth grade class.
The Niota Depot was constructed seven years before the civil war and is the oldest remaining depot in Tennessee. It is located just off US Hwy 11, formerly known as the Robert E. Lee Hwy.
“This depot is the center point of a story that is part of the significance and sacrifice that shaped our nation and provided the foundation for what our nation is today,” said Dr. Carroll Van West, Executive Director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation. “This Civil War marker reconnects your local past to our nation’s past,”
The Tennessee Civil War Trails continued its growth across the state this week with four more historical markers being installed in Knoxville, Byrdstown, La Follette, and Johnson City. With the addition of these five markers, the Trails have expanded to include forty sites in Tennessee, reaching from Memphis to Johnson City. In early June, several more sites are scheduled to come on board. With the number of markers quickly on the rise, the statewide map-guide is expected in early Fall 2009.
For more information on the Tennessee Civil War Trails, contact Noell Rembert, Civil War Heritage Coordinator, at Noell.Rembert@tn.gov or 615-532-8077, or Lee Curtis, Director of Program Development, at Lee.Curtis@tn.gov or 615-741-9045.
Sustainable Tourism Workshops
May 14, 2009 – Franklin, The Factory
June 16, 2009 – Cookeville, Del Monaco Winery, (Baxter)
Nov. 16, 2009 – Jackson, Casey Jones Village
Nov. 17, 2009 – Memphis, Pink Palace Museum
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Department of Environment and Conservation are committed to preserving and protecting Tennessee’s unsurpassed natural beauty. As a follow-up to the Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit, held last April in Knoxville, the department is continuing to educate the industry about sustainability. These four workshops focus on Middle and West Tennessee, however everyone is invited to attend.
As part of the sustainable tourism initiative, four, one-day workshops will be held across Tennessee to provide the hospitality and tourism industry with sustainable tourism resources, case studies, best practices and access to leading experts. Learn how communities and businesses are successfully implementing sustainable practices by highlighting local, natural and cultural resources, while also enhancing a region’s sense of place. Explore how communities have successfully transitioned their destination through green practices.
Sustainable tourism offers communities numerous benefits, including a new found respect for traditional ways of life, an improved education, employment opportunities, economic growth, a competitive advantage and an authentic visitor experience.
Is your business or community ready to offer visitors an authentic, memorable experience?
Register TODAY to be a part of this important discussion on sustainable tourism.
There is no charge for attendance, however space is limited – RSVP today to Patricia Gray at (615)741-9004, email@example.com or Lee Curtis at 615-741.9045, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate which workshop you will attend. www.tnsustainabletourism.com
2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism
Save the Date
The 2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism is the most comprehensive forum for tourism professionals. It is designed to showcase current trends in tourism through seminars by industry-wide experts. You will be informed, inspired and become a better tourism professional after you attend this year’s conference.
Discover new trends, and identify ways to capitalize on every opportunity to make your attraction, event or destination a success. Details about keynote speakers, educational seminars and networking opportunities will be available in the coming weeks.
Make plans to attend the conference, Wednesday – Friday, Sept. 16 – 19, at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro. For registration and hotel information, visit the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable Web site at www.tenntourismroundtable.com.
Tourism Participates in Education Conference
Tourism officials interacted with more than 100 students at the annual. Save-A-Student Leadership and Conference sponsored by the Education Equal Opportunity Group, Inc. The three-day symposium was inclusive of 20 interactive workshops presented by leading business, academic and civic professionals, which covered issues relevant to the academic, professional and personal success of students. George Thomas, President of EEOG says, “The conference is designed to improve retention and graduation rates for high school and college students.”
Keynote speakers included Dr. Charles Manning, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, Mr. Robert Boone, vice president/chief human resources officer of BMI and Mr. David Freeman, chairman Nashville Predators Hockey Team. Many of the speakers talked about their career paths and how important it was to learn as much as you can and be prepared for unexpected opportunities.
In addition to workshops, the conference provided a job fair, plenary sessions and networking opportunities for students and sponsoring organizations. Assistant Commissioner Phyllis Qualls-Brooks and Regional Manager Derrick Smith represented the department at the event. This conference allows us to expose students to careers in the tourism industry and develop a career path many had not considered. Furthermore, it allows students to broaden their minds by being exposed to many opportunities available to them.”
Student participants were from the Nashville area high schools and colleges as well as schools from Birmingham, Alabama.
Facts & Trends
National Tourism Week Modification Announced
The U.S. Travel Association (formerly TIA) has modified the name of its 9-day nationwide industry emphasis to National Travel and Tourism Week. The modification was made to broadly signal that travel for leisure and business alike bears greatly upon the American economic landscape. National Travel and Tourism Week is May 9 – 17, 2009.
Your Tennessee Welcome Centers are preparing for another grand display of hospitality as travelers drive in during the Travel and Tourism Week. Be sure to read the May issue of the e-Newsletter for complete details. In the meantime, if your destination or attraction would like to participate in their celebration, contact the welcome center manager. A list of centers is on our tourism Web site.
Two major shopping destinations in the Nashville area will once again showcase some of Tennessee’s top attractions to shoppers, group leaders, tour operators, travel counselors and others. There is still time to register your attraction or destination at both of these events:
1. Travel Expo: “Discover Tennessee” at Opry Mills in Nashville - May 8/9. Sponsored by the Nashville Attractions Coalition. For more information email Francis Manzitto at Frances@clarksville.tn.us.
2. 2nd ANNUAL STAYCATION EXPO at COOLSPRINGS GALLERIA in Franklin- May 16/17. Co-sponsored by the Williamson County CVB. Contact Mary Anne Monast at email@example.com
Save the Date for U.S. Travel Rally Day
The U.S. Travel Association has set aside Tuesday, May 12, 2009 as U.S. Travel Rally Day. The event is an unprecedented nationwide opportunity to say "Travel Matters", on one day and under one banner. U.S. Travel will be asking convention and visitors bureau staff to partner with business leaders and personnel from hotels, meeting facilities, transportation providers, attractions, restaurants and others, and engage elected officials and media. With everyone’s participation, the rally will bring to life the workforce that is created locally by travel and tourism.
A resource tool kit to assist tourism partners in organizing their local event is available online at UStravel.org
Cherokee Days of Recognition at
Red Clay State Historic Park
PBS Mini-Series to Spotlight Southeast Tennessee
Tourism partners in Southeast Tennessee are poised for an increased interest in the region as PBS airs the newest American Experience mini-series, We Shall Remain. Beginning April 13, five 90-minute documentaries spanning 300 years will tell the story of pivotal moments in U.S. history from the Native American perspective. The series will air on Monday evenings through May 11, 2009.
Episode 3—dedicated to the Trail of Tears—will air on April 27, featuring footage from southeast Tennessee, including Red Clay State Historic Park, New Echota Historic Site and the Chief Vann House. Red Clay was the last Eastern capital of the Cherokee Nation before their tragic removal on the Trail of Tears. On April 16, 17 and 18, the Cherokee Nation, headquartered in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee located in North Carolina will gather together at Red Clay for a Joint Council. This event commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the 1984 Joint Council and lighting of the eternal flame of the Cherokee Nation that burns at Red Clay.
To coincide with the release of the PBS special, the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association is publishing a Cherokee Trail brochure, highlighting Native American sites in the 10-county region including Trail of Tears sites, cemeteries, parks, museums and various Native American annual events. The Cleveland/Bradley Convention & Visitors Bureau is also releasing a brochure of Cherokee sites for Charleston and Cleveland in Bradley County, as well as Calhoun in McMinn County.
Bikers Lean into Johnson City
The Johnson City CVB has just launched its new online site for bikers. RideJohnsonCity.com. With help from the Tri-Cities H.O.G. Chapter , the site lists 12 day-trips, pointing the rider along winding mountain roads, rolling valley highways and scenic country backroads. Each trip is themed and includes cultural, historical and scenic destinations close to home and as far away as Damascus VA, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Bean Station.
Construction work on I-40 in Knoxville
Governor Phil Bredesen, TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely along with Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker had a first-hand view of the progress being made on the I-40 improvement project in Knoxville.
Tourism Professionals Prepare for Certification
Time is running out to register for 2009 Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional (CTTP) College, May 6-8 in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Participants in this year’s college will receive a $75.00 discount on their registration costs for the 2009 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which will be held September 16-18 in Murfreesboro.
The CTTP program is sponsored by the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable and is administered in partnership with the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute. The program is underwritten by Miles Media, publisher of the official Tennessee Vacation Guide. Complete information can be found on the TTR Web site.
Top Attraction Visitation Reports are Due
Each year, your state tourism office ranks the top 100 visited attractions in Tennessee from data submitted by its partners. The Top 100 ranking is included in the department’s annual report released at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. It has also proven to be a helpful tool in attracting media attention for our industry.
Please assist us by completing and returning your data by April 10, 2009. Send your completed survey or your request for the visitation survey form to Patricia.Gray@tn.gov.
New State E-mail Addresses
In a move to be more in line with the state’s main Web site (TN.gov) email addresses sent to state employees at the domain “state.tn.us” have been changed to “TN.gov.” New addresses now appear as firstname.lastname@example.org. During the transition period, emails sent to the “state.tn.us” domain will be forwarded to the new address.
Tennessee Map Wins First Place
The 2009 TNGIC Annual GIS Conference invited GIS professionals from all over Tennessee to submit maps for display and judging during the 2009 Conference. The maps were judged by a panel of peers and featured four award categories of winners which were announce on Wednesday, April 1, 2009. Out of the 38 map entries, TDOT received First Place in the Best Cartographic Design and was awarded a plaque for the redesigned Official 2009 State Transportation Map.
The first place Best Cartographic Design is Awarded for the map that artistically employs the elements of cartography without compromising use and functionality. Maps were judged on fundamental cartographic principles including figure ground representations, visual hierarchy, color selection, typography, symbology, and overall aesthetic appearance. Congratulations go out to the Long Range Planning Division, GIS Mapping and Facilities Data (TRIMS) Office for winning first place this year.
Jellico and I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Centers Construction Update
Travelers heading to Tennessee from the eastern portion of the United States will soon have two new Welcome Centers to welcome them to our state! The Jellico, on Interstate 75 is being rebuilt while a new Tennessee Welcome Center is being built on Interstate 26 in Unicoi County.
The Jellico Center is approximately 70% completed at this time and should be finished before the scheduled date. The required date of substantial completion is November 2, 2009. The construction schedule shows that the project will be substantially complete in late April.
Work recently performed at the Jellico site includes installation of the roof decking and shingles at the vending building, equipment storage building, and the paper storage building; light pole bases have been installed; underground work is nearly complete; dumpster pad has been installed; and the HVAC work at the vending building is complete. Roofing paper and sleepers have been installed at the main Welcome Center building; picnic shelters have been constructed; final grading is underway around picnic shelters; and the sidewalks behind the paper storage building are being installed. Work planned for the upcoming month includes: stonework at chimney; light poles, installation of overhead doors; and cedar roof shake installation.
The Unicoi County project is approximately 16% complete overall at this time. The required date of substantial completion is October 6, 2009. The current construction schedule shows the project as achieving substantial completion in November 2009. Work recently performed includes: preparations to pour the concrete slabs-on-grade for the main Welcome Center building and the vending building. Work planned for the upcoming month includes: continue mass grading; installing storm drainage piping; pouring concrete slabs-on-grade for the main Welcome Center building and the Vending Building; continue cutting-in road beds; sanitary sewer piping installation; water line installation; and installing log cabin package.
Welcome Center Employee of the Month
"Mary was very, very helpful. She has a great personality."
"You have an excellent facility and Mary was excellent and helpful."
"Mary was very nice and helped us find brochures on the places in Tennessee we wanted to see."
"Please give Mary the recognition she deserves! She was very kind and helpful to our family."
These are but a few on the positive comments received by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development concerning Mary Ferrer. She is our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for March 2009. Ferrer, a Welcome Center Assistant at the I-24 Montgomery County (Clarksville) Welcome Center has been with our Department for almost four years.
"I love my job," she said. "I really enjoy talking to the visitors who come from all over. When I see someone who needs assistance walk through the front door of the Welcome Center, I really want to help them find what they are looking for and meet their needs."
Ralph Smith, Clarksville Welcome Center Manager, says Mary is well deserving of this honor. "Mary is a very dedicated employee, and really enjoys working with the public." Apparently our visitors agree that Mary serves them well.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Tennessee Popcorn Featured on Rachel Ray
On March 9th the Rachel Ray Show featured the popcorn of Sally Lane's Candy, Paris TN. The snack is usually shown about halfway through the show and is one of the most popular segments.
Nashville Farmers' Market
Agriculture programs going organic
Agriculture programs are going organic at many Tennessee universities. As the public becomes more environmentally conscious schools believe that students need to be more aware of and informed of organic agriculture. Typically universities have encouraged a chemical based agriculture program because of the productivity. With a growing movement to healthier lifestyles and eating, more schools are moving into organic farming, which excludes the use of synthetic chemicals, bans antibiotics and hormones in livestock production and relies on cultural and biological pest management.
Memphis Zoo breaks record
On March 17, 20,450 people descended upon the Memphis Zoo making it the single highest attendance day in the 103-year history of the Zoo! Conditions were perfect for a record setting day at the Zoo. Temperatures were mild, out-of-town guests bolstered morning attendance, and local school systems were on spring break. The largest contributor to the record attendance came from the Zoo's free period, held for Tennessee residents every Tuesday after 2 p.m. This attendance total shattered the previous record of 13,667 set three years ago on March 14, 2006.
Paddlewheel hotel docks in Downtown Chattanooga
The Delta Queen has a new home. It's docked in Chattanooga, and will be starting life as a boutique hotel. The Delta Queen was removed from overnight passenger service after she had logged two million miles and transported half a million people. Her new home is on Chattanooga's North Shore, an area with numerous shops and restaurants.
West Tennessee Culinary Tourism Map
The place-mat size guide highlights more than 100 restaurants in West Tennessee from catfish houses to barbecue joints and Mom & Pop's, meat & threes, tea rooms, drive-ins and destination restaurants.This particular map project focuses on legendary Southern foods. The map's journey to fruition is a real family affair. A seed was planted during a meeting with Clark Shaw, his wife Juanita, and John T. Edge who leads the Southern Foodways Alliance at Ole Miss (The University of Mississippi in Oxford).They partnered with one of their main food vendors ~ U.S. Foodservice ~ to sponsor the map.Ten thousand copies have been printed andare being distributed regionally.A downloadable copy is available online on the homepage of http://www.caseyjones.com/.
Old Country Store, Jackson
Old Country Store Named Jackson's BestRestaurant
For the fifth year in a row, Brooks Shaw's Old Country Storehas beennamed Jackson's Best Overall Restaurant.Casey Jones Village was honored in several categories at the Jackson Sun Readers’ Choice Awards. Casey Jones Village was voted Best Local Attraction for 2009 having received that distinction every year of the competition. In addition to "Best Overall Restaurant", the Old Country Store also won “Best Southern’ Cookin".
Wayne County is promoting
In an effort to promote tourism in Wayne County, Ken Burress, Wayne County director for University of Tennessee Extension, is producing a map to help tourists and locals find the attractions they most want to see. The map should be complete before the summer travel season. It will be distributed at tourist attractions around the county and be available on the Internet. The project is part of an effort by the Buffalo/Duck River Resource Conservation and Development Council.
Four Points by Sheraton
Tiffany Award winner
For the second year in a row, the Four Points by Sheraton Knoxville Cumberland House Hotel has received the 2008 Tiffany award for the #1 Four Points by Sheraton in North America for overall guest satisfaction. Additionally, the property has also been named "Hotel of the Year" for 2008. Starwood provides this global award to one property in the brand that receives the highest guest scores, brand audit scores and revenue performance for the year.
Owner of the Year
Pace Cooper received the global Owner of the Year Award from the HotelWorld Network during its annual expo and conference. The award is based on performance metrics, hotel occupancy, growth in the last year, monetary contributions to capital improvements and the owner's personal performance.
Quote of the Month
"Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn't work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach." -Roger von Oech
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You