Dear Tourism Colleagues,
Here we are, approaching the end of another year, and what a year it has been for tourism in Tennessee! We can look back on 2006 with gratitude and a sense of real accomplishment. The fact that all 95 counties in Tennessee experienced an increase in economic impact from tourism is just the beginning of our good news.
We’ve all been pleased to see the excellent economic results for tourism this year. Of particular significance is the news that state and local taxes generated by tourism topped $1 billion for the first time in history. This is indeed a milestone for Tennessee tourism and cause for celebration.
:pullquote: The latest good news comes in the form of a $537,240 enhancement grant awarded by Governor Phil Bredesen for the Tennessee Civil War Trails program. The project encourages and rewards local governments and private sector participants that establish, promote and maintain the program in their areas. The Tennessee Civil War Trails program will enable hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans and visitors from around the world to experience and appreciate Tennessee’s rich Civil War heritage as well as preserve the integrity of these historic sites for future generations. Information on how to participate in this program will be available in early 2007.
Speaking of 2007, January begins the second phase of this fiscal year's marketing plan including the opportunity for industry participation in 51 co-op advertising opportunities. The 36 print and 14 internet partnerships have been very well received by our partners. Many thanks to Jennifer Spence and her Marketing team for putting together such an excellent variety of general interest and niche opportunities. The department's website advertising is on track to continue into the new year with significant positioning on some of the top travel sites in the world including Travelocity.com, Weather.com, Google and Yahoo.
Tennesseans know how to throw a good party and 2007 offers many special reasons to celebrate. The Belle Meade Plantation has its 200th anniversary; Rock City turns 75; Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Stax Music Academy will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stax Records and 50 years of soul music; Nashville’s famed Bluebird Café will turn 25. Plans are already underway for each of these wonderful Tennessee milestones.
Now, as we enter this special time, I would like to send out my best wishes to you for the happiest of holidays. May you have a moment of genuine peace in the midst of what, for many, is one of your busiest seasons.
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Tennessee Sampler Returns
Due to many requests made during the "listening" tour, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is pleased to announce the return of the Tennessee Sampler. The last Tennessee Sampler was held in Cincinnati in 1999.
The sales blitz and trade show event for 2007 will be held March 27-29 in Tampa, FL. After a recent site visit to several locations, the Renaissance Tampa Hotel International Plaza was secured for both room nights and the special event.
:pullquote:The sampler, exclusive for Tennessee partners, is designed to showcase everything Tennessee. The must-do event has been deemed as beneficial for all of the industry partners who participate.
“We are excited about the return of the Tennessee Sampler. It is a huge opportunity for the whole state- from the smaller communities and attractions to the CVBs,” said Shelda Rees, director of tourism at the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Tennessee Sampler committee member. “We have a chance to meet with tour operators, travel agents and AAA auto counselors all in one location.”
Participating industry partners will be divided into teams and will attend pre-set sales appointments on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday will be designated for AAA, with a Tennessee presentation to the AAA Auto Club South call center and sales visits to area AAA offices on Wednesday. Tour operators and AAA are invited to attend the Tennessee Sampler event on Wednesday evening held at the Renaissance utilizing their beautiful courtyard and ballroom. Guests will have the opportunity to receive Tennessee information distributed from partner booths, win door prizes, enjoy food and beverage and experience incredible entertainment by Tennessee performers.
AAA Auto Club South is the fourth largest affiliate within the AAA federation. The organization has 70 branch offices serving more than four million members in Florida, Georgia, the western two-thirds of Tennessee and Puerto Rico.
Registration for 2007’s Tennessee Sampler is $400 and includes two representatives, all appointments and booth space. Registered partners can bring additional representatives at $75/person.
“The Tennessee Samplers is also a great networking event,” Rees stated. “Not only are we educating the clients about Tennessee, but it’s also an opportunity for the partners to learn more about what various cities and attractions have to offer within our state .”
Celebrate Tennessee’s Winter Wonder Lands
As the winter holiday season is upon us, perhaps you will take time to enjoy some of the many splendid events taking place in Tennessee this winter. There are numerous activities throughout the state that will delight your spirits. It is the season to be jolly and there's no better place to spread some holiday cheer than Tennessee.
During winter the beautiful scenic state is transformed to a twinkling wonderland, making the season bright with its luminous winter glow. From Elvis' Graceland to Gaylord Opryland's A Country Christmas and Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas, Tennessee attractions offer a dazzling array of holiday merriment across the state's distinct three regions.
From the Mississippi River to the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee’s quaint small towns offer a host of festive performances, parades or festivals to put everyone in the holiday spirit. Franklin’s Dickens of a Christmas is a must-attend event, while, Watertown features the Polar Express Santa Excursion Train, which are a few events that focus on holiday activities throughout the state. While the weather in other states may be frigid and frightening, Tennessee offers a mild winter climate making it a great time to visit the state's many attractions decorated in their holiday finery.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, make plans now to top off your holiday with a visit to some of Tennessee festive events. The lights will certainly delight your spirits.
Mitchellville Welcome Center
There is an insurance company whose slogan is “The good hands people”. The Tennessee Welcome Center in Mitchellville can also claim that right. According to Center Manager Sherry Stratton, the employees of the center live by the same motto.
“We are all thankful for our jobs and we’re here to please the people. There are no big I’s and little you’s we all pull together,” said Stratton.
An example of that mindset is apparent when, on a Tennessee winter's day, a family from Indianapolis was traveling along I-65 and stopped at the Center due to inclement weather. Little did Scott and Kathy Rosenow and their 19 physically disabled foster children, ages two to 19, know that they would be snowed in for the night at the center. Several truckers took notice of the situation and took up money to pay for pizzas for the family. Sherry leaped into action by making a telephone call to Phillip Prochaska, her fiancé. Phillip picked up 20 pizzas from a local pizzeria and delivered them to the marooned family. The normal 10 minute drive from the pizzeria took Phillip more than an hour.
This is just one example of the many warm-hearted activities which have taken place since 1969 when the Mitchellville Center was built. Once, a man traveling to Florida with his family lost his wallet containing $700. An honest gentleman found the wallet and turned it in to a welcome center assistant. Sherry contacted the owner and he returned to the center on his way back home to retrieve the lost wallet.
Sherry and the staff of eight believe in helping others and providing great customer service to the visitors. Travelers are not only welcomed by the staff, but also by life-size human silhouettes standing along the sidewalk of the center. The metal artwork entitled Portal Grouping, is a favorite of the guests. “Visitors love it. One figure looks like Johnny Cash and several people have their picture taken with it,” said Stratton.
To end this story on an even higher note, the Rosenows have since adopted all 19 children and Center Manager Sherry Stratton and her fiancé Phillip were married on November 24, 2006.
TACVB Blizzard Professional Development Conference
The TACVB "Blizzard", January 18-19, 2007, presented by Miles Media, will be held at beautiful Montgomery Bell State Park. The Park is located seven miles east of Dickson, Tennessee.
The conference is geared specifically to destination marketing organizations (DMOs). Whether you work for a CVB, Chamber of Commerce or local government office, if you are the person responsible for promoting your community to tourists, we invite you to join us for this inaugural event. The conference will close with lunch and remarks from Susan Whitaker, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Registration for the Conference is $50 for the first person from your organization and $35 for each additional (non-member cost is $100). This covers attendance at the educational sessions, and breaks, as well as Thursday night's dinner and Friday's breakfast and lunch.
TACVB has negotiated a special rate of $45.95 a night. Please refer to Code 4083 when making your reservation at 800-250-8613. Lodge reservations must be made by December 1, 2006 to guarantee availability.
For more information, contact TACVB Executive Director, Sheila Leggett, at 615/254-1233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Journalists Land for CMA’s
Thanks to our German and British tourism representatives, a solid constituency of British, German and Irish journalists were on-hand for the CMA festivities in Nashville recently. In addition, several traveled across the state to round-out their Tennessee experience. Trips to Jack Daniels Distillery, Hurricane Mills Ranch, The Smoky Mountains, and Byrdstown for a night of bluegrass music and fried chicken were additional stops along the Tennessee highway.
Congratulations to the Memphis Zoo
For the first time in its 100 year history the Memphis Zoo has reached a million visitors in a calendar year. The lucky visitor walked through the gates at 3:02pm on November 5th.
Hardin County Featured
Pick up a copy of Business Tennessee Magazine. The November issue features Hardin County and the positive strides they are making in economic and tourism growth.
Hermitage Hotel Received Award
The Hermitage Hotel received the prestigious Mobil Five Star Award. The historic downtown Nashville hotel underwent a $20 million restoration project in 2002 before re-opening Valentine’s Day 2003.
Franklin Makes Top Ten List
Trip Advisor, a new barometer of what’s hot and what’s not in travel destinations, has just released its TravelCast “Top Ten Hot Destinations for 2007.” Franklin was selected as one of the top ten rising stars of great places to visit in the U.S.
Madison Hotel Among 100 Best
The Madison Hotel ranked No. 52 on the Condé Nast Traveler annual 100 top hotels listing. The Memphis hotel ranked 12 notches above the Washington D.C. Four Season Hotel and five spots above Chicago’s Park Hyatt hotel.
Memphis In May Received Pinnacle Awards
The International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) paid tribute to the Memphis In May International Festival during the 51st Annual Convention and Expo. Memphis In May was presented 14 awards in the prestigious Pinnacle Awards competition. The organization received the Grand Pinnacle Bronze for the International Salute to Costa Rica and awards for Best Volunteer Program, Best Education Program and Community Outreach.
B&Bs Receive AAA Award
Three bed and breakfast inns in East Tennessee have historically received the AAA Four Diamond property award each year. Once again Christopher Place Bed and Breakfast in Newport, Eight Gables Bed and Breakfast Inn in Gatlinburg and Whitestone Country Inn in Kingston, earned the award in 2006.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You