a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Tourism Partners,

Industry Spotlight

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Featured Article

Education Initiative

The department has launched a comprehensive education initiative in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education to strengthen the tourism industry in Tennessee through educational opportunities.

The Education Initiative springs from the industry's desire to increase awareness of the many career paths found within the tour and travel industry to...

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The 2006 Governor’s Conference

The 2006 Governor’s Conference on Tourism is a must-attend event. This year’s theme, “Uniquely Tourism” is an opportunity for industry professionals to have a rare and unique experience throughout the conference. Roy Williams, the "Wizard of Ads" is the featured speaker, along with other notable workshop participants, and wonderful opportunities...

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The Memphis Welcome Center

Visitors traveling to and through the State of Tennessee are met by Welcome Centers on each of the major Interstates. The Department of Tourist Development operates the 13 Welcome Centers located in Memphis, (on I‑55 and I‑40), Dyersburg, Mitchellville, Ardmore, Clarksville, Nickajack, Tiftonia, Chattanooga, Smith County, Bristol, Hartford and Jellico....

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Showtime

America's First Frontier Region Goes Podcasting

The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association (NETTA) has launched the first NETTA News Podcast on NETTA.com. Claudia Moody, Executive Director of NETTA, says that the weekly, online updates are being produced to pique listener’s curiosity about selected upcoming events and activities within...

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Industry Applause

Tennesse Hoteliers Receive National Awards

Arthur Keith, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center was recognized as the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Outstanding General Manager of the Year. This award recognizes a general manager who has demonstrated outstanding contributions of leadership, service...

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Dear Tourism Partners,

Did summer really go by this quickly when we were younger? My goodness, it’s just flown by! Judging from the reports around the state, it has been a busy one for many of you in the tourism industry. That’s good news for Tennessee!

It has also been a whirlwind of activity here in the department as the finishing touches were put on our 2006-2007 Marketing Plan just in time to take it on the road to present to the industry. We’re in the midst of an 11 city tour, providing detailed information on how to participate in all of our state programs. The itinerary of the marketing road show and a copy of the Marketing Plan, can be accessed on our web site at TNvacation.com/industry/.

The Department of Tourist Development spent months developing the plan. Following a state-wide listening tour to solicit input from the industry, Assistant Commissioner of Marketing Jennifer Spence worked with her team and the Buntin Group, our media agency, to sort through a long list of advertising opportunities. By selecting the ones that best met the expressed needs of the industry and the department, they have done an outstanding job creating over 50 cooperative opportunities in both print and internet media, up from 9 last year.

We will continue to target our 11 feeder markets with television as well as step up our national print advertising campaign with placements that include “O” (Oprah’s) magazine, Southern Living and People magazine.

This would not have been possible without Governor Bredesen’s one-time budget increase of $4.75 million for tourism advertising that the Tennessee General Assembly approved for this fiscal year. This second year of additional funding has enabled the Department to put together a successful, effective campaign for the state. We are all very grateful to the Governor and the Tennessee General Assembly for their continued strong support of this powerful economic engine and look forward to creating increased sales tax revenues to fund Tennessee’s educational and economic initiatives.

This is an exciting time for Tennessee tourism. As we continue to partner together to get the word out about our many vacation destinations, we’ll continue to see the dramatic increases in our economic results. And, the good news is, once people come the first time, we know they’ll be back!

Best wishes,

Susan Whitaker
Commissioner

a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Featured Article 

Education Initiative

The department has launched a comprehensive education initiative in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education to strengthen the tourism industry in Tennessee through educational opportunities.

The Education Initiative springs from the industry's desire to increase awareness of the many career paths found within the tour and travel industry to the entire educational community, including educators, students and their parents.

:pullquote: These career paths will include those traditionally associated with tourism such as hotel, restaurant and attraction management and marketing/sales. Additionally, students will learn about how their interests in fields not normally associated with tourism can be found within the industry, such as biological sciences in eco-tourism and engineering in sports venue planning and construction.

Commissioner Whitaker states, “ As a result of this awareness, more students will be inspired to stay in school to prepare for these careers, which is a very positive thing for Tennessee.

The industry will also benefit from having a larger pool of available job candidates in-state."

This ground-breaking initiative has far-reaching goals, but its primary goals are relationship building, academic support and career development. Raising awareness about the travel and tourism industry will allow for strong relationships to be developed among numerous vocations and occupations. Sharing information about the needs of the industry to the academic community will support curriculum development and provide opportunities for careers by job-shadowing, internships, externships, scholarships, certificate programs and ultimately degrees, which will be the significant step in the process for the ultimate career.

Tourism is developing a speaker’s bureau made up of tourism professionals. The department is also developing a video with a companion brochure to distribute among the numerous educational institutions, associations and parent groups. Additionally, the department is participating in a variety of conferences, seminars, workshops, PTA and PTO meetings and classroom sessions to discuss tourism as a career.

Tourism in Tennessee has a projected 10-year job growth, according to officials at the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management at the University of Tennessee. In an industry with a $12.4 billion annual economic impact, careers in this industry will be very desirable, which is inclusive of public relations, marketing, lodging, restaurants, transportation, event-planning, sports management, venue management, and government services.

The 2006 Governor’s Conference

The 2006 Governor’s Conference on Tourism is a must-attend event. This year’s theme, “Uniquely Tourism” is an opportunity for industry professionals to have a rare and unique experience throughout the conference. Roy Williams, the "Wizard of Ads" is the featured speaker, along with other notable workshop participants, and wonderful opportunities to network and interact with industry professionals.

Williams is known world wide for his trilogy of ad books, which have all been on best seller lists; Wizard of Ads, Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads and Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads. Williams’ ad formula is known for creating miraculous growth for small-business owners as well as others. His school, Wizard Academy, attracts students from among the world’s most successful thinking industry professionals. He has received rave reviews for his presentations at several state governors' conferences and has been selected as a keynote speaker for this year's Travel Industry Association's (TIA) ESTO Conference in Minneapolis. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from his expertise right here in Tennessee. Williams will speak at the entire morning session on Thursday, September 21, and will continue with one afternoon seminar.

Other afternoon seminar topics taking place on Thursday, September 21 include:

Rollin’ RV Revenue
Dottie Maitland
Who is your customer? Understanding Diverse Tourism in Tennessee
Dr. Wanda Gosten
Making Most of your Nature Tourism Dollar
Scott Sparks
Effectively Marketing Your Brand through Partnerships
Jennifer Spence and David Nicholson
Boomers are Online People Too
Ralph Thompson
More Power to Her: Understanding the Difference between how men and women view the world.
Jerry Hill and Jill Renner

The Governor’s Conference will be held Wednesday through Friday, September 20-22 in Knoxville at the Knoxville Convention Center. Host hotels are the Holiday Inn Select (888-465-4329) and the Hilton Knoxville (865-523-2300). For complete conference information and registration, go to tntourismroundtable.com. or visit tnvacation.com for conference information.

The Memphis Welcome Center

Visitors traveling to and through the State of Tennessee are met by Welcome Centers on each of the major Interstates. The Department of Tourist Development operates the 13 Welcome Centers located in Memphis, (on I‑55 and I‑40), Dyersburg, Mitchellville, Ardmore, Clarksville, Nickajack, Tiftonia, Chattanooga, Smith County, Bristol, Hartford and Jellico.

Travelers can visit the centers to gather information on tourist attractions, restaurants, and lodging and other traveling accommodations. Many vacationers stop in to pick up the Tennessee Vacation Guides, brochures and maps which are available at each location.

This month’s Welcome Center Profile will focus on the Memphis I‑40 Center managed by George Stewart. Located on the Arkansas line near Mud Island, the center attracts 523,563 visitors annually and provides complete travel service.

:pullquote: Greeting the travelers at the I‑40 Center are the Kings of Memphis. Statues of the King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley and the King of the Blues B.B. King proudly stand in the lobby. The I‑40 Center is quite unique in the fact that the Department has partnered to share the location with the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.

George, the Center’s manager for three years, has been with the department of tourism for 32 years. He believes his staff of six provides a great service to the visitors that travel into and through the State. “The tourists come in for our facilities and brochures and are given information from our very capable staff,” adds George.

“A big thing that’s very helpful to the visitors is our reservation assistance. We will make the calls for them to assure a room,” said Barry Young, Director of Welcome Centers. “The Welcome Center assistants are very knowledgeable about the area and attractions.”

Showtime

America's First Frontier Region Goes Podcasting

The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association (NETTA) has launched the first NETTA News Podcast on NETTA.com. Claudia Moody, Executive Director of NETTA, says that the weekly, online updates are being produced to pique listener’s curiosity about selected upcoming events and activities within the Tri-Cities TN/VA region. Each podcast is approximately 3 to 4 minutes in length and is available through a link found on the agency’s homepage, www.netta.com and via the NETTA e-Newsletter sent to potential visitors.

Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association (NETTA) is a non-profit tourism promotion and development agency that serves and supports Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties in Tennessee.

Americans are going iPod crazy! An iPod is simply an MP3 (audio file) storage and playback device. This MP3 information increasingly takes the form of “info-tainment” – short audio programs that users can listen to by playing on their computers or downloading onto their portable MP3 player to take along with them.

Tourism destinations across Tennessee have recognized the marketing advantages of embracing MP3 technology to convey information to travel professionals, general tourism public and various target audiences. Examples include:

  • The Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. They were among the first major visual arts institutions to take advantage of new podcasting technology. www.fristcenter.org/site/podcasts

  • The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. They utilize podcasting to feature the Aquarium’s veterinarian, describing what it's like to work with 10-foot sharks. www.tnaqua.org/VisitorInfo/podcast.asp

Hotel chains are also using podcasts and humor to attract guests. For example, award-winning Motel 6 spokesperson Tom Bodett counts down the top six reasons to stay at a motel instead of with your relatives this holiday season. www.motel6.com/promotions/podcasts.asp

Finally, you probably have heard about the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s commercial that features Elvis and Dolly Parton. www.tnvacation.com. Now, thanks to the video version of podcasting you can view behind the scenes footage on the making of this world famous commercial. www.elvis.com/vodcast.xml

Showtime is a featured article on a unique tourism attraction, event or activity.

Industry Applause

Tennesse Hoteliers Receive National Awards

Arthur Keith, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center was recognized as the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Outstanding General Manager of the Year. This award recognizes a general manager who has demonstrated outstanding contributions of leadership, service and community and/or civic affairs. The nominees are judged on performance that goes beyond normal job responsibilities and unusual service to the property, guests and community. Keith received the award in the large property category, competing with major hotel managers nationwide.

Martha Axford

Martha Axford, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Select Cedar Bluff and RHS Properties, Knoxville was recognized as the American Hotel & Lodging Association's 2006 Most Valuable Volunteer representing the State of Tennessee. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) announced the winners of the annual "Stars of the Industry" awards recently at the AH&LA breakfast event in Denver.

Heads of State Visit Graceland

On June 30th, President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. They also dined at Rendevous Restaurant for some great barbecue. The visit drew international attention because of the heads of state visiting Memphis.

Children’s Museum of Memphis Names Former Mayor Richard C. Hackett New CEO

Hackett becomes the third chief executive in the museum’s 16-year history. As mayor in 1990, he was instrumental in the museum’s conception by awarding a 25 year, $1-a-year lease of the National Guard Armory at Central Avenue and Hollywood to CMOM’s founders. As CEO, Hackett will oversee the day-to-day operations of the museum, its five departments and a staff of 42. He will also act as CMOM’s chief fund raiser.

Pigeon Forge Great Gas Give Away Reaches More Than Half The Nation

In less than a month, the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism has filled in half of the U.S. map with recipients of free gasoline in the Pigeon Forge Great Gas Giveaway – all in an effort to give away a tanker truckload of gas. New Jersey was the 25th state to have a winner when a visitor from New Jersey received one of the $30 gasoline gift certificates given away randomly by the Pigeon Forge Gas Patrol. The Giveaway began Memorial Day weekend and is a summer-long activity that cumulatively will give away 8,500 gallons – enough to fill a tanker truck.

Dollywood Announces Addition For 2007

Dollywood’s new ride for the 2007 season is a mystery no more with the theme park’s announcement of the $17.5 million Mystery Mine steel roller coaster. Marking the largest capital investment in the company’s history, Mystery Mine brings a one-acre expansion of Dollywood’s Timber Canyon area. In a continuation of the area’s lumber camp theme, Mystery Mine is set in an abandoned coal mine. Mystery Mine, the first ride of its kind in the U.S., also incorporates state-of-the-art special effects. Artist renderings and ride simulation video may be viewed at www.mysterymine.com.

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

Industry Spotlight