a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

Featured Article

Governor Haslam Tours Department of Tourist Development

In his first official day, Governor Bill Haslam visited Tourism, and Commissioner Whitaker served as his tour guide, taking him throughout the department. It was an honor for the Governor to take time from his busy schedule to visit our department and meet the entire staff, said Commissioner Whitaker....

Read more

What’s New in Tennessee for 2011

The year 2011 brings exciting new exhibits, attractions, enhanced destinations and experiences to Tennessee’s already successful tourism industry.

WEST

Graceland, Memphis

Memphis
Newseum exhibit "Elvis! His Groundbreaking, Hip–Shaking, Newsmaking Story" opens at Graceland and tells the story of Presley as he was portrayed in...

Read more

SHOWCASE

2011 Tennessee Vacation Guide Has Arrived

The 2011 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide arrived the last week of December at the Nashville tourism offices and at USA800 and distribution to tourism partners and travel consumers is already underway.

This year’s guide features special editorial spotlights on Tennessee’s 150th Commemoration of the...

Read more

2011 TACVB Blizzard Brings Tourism Professionals Together

Tennessee tourism professionals from across the state came together in Murfreesboro for the TACVB Blizzard V, themed “Waves of Change.” The Blizzard focuses on the significance of Tennessee tourism to local and state economic development which generates $13.3 billion in direct economic impact annually.

The 24-hour event, held from noon...

Read more

Civil War

Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Documentary Airs on NPT

The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial documentary commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War premiered on Nashville Public Television in January and was broadcast throughout the month. The project serves as an educational resourceto preserve thehistory and the important role Tennessee...

Read more

Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways

One of Tourism’s Highest Priorities

As one of the most comprehensive departmental initiatives in tourism’s history, the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways is one of the departments’ highest priorities for the new year.

A strategic planning meeting was led by Commissioner Whitaker and attended by tourism’s entire marketing...

Read more

Black History Month Celebrated Across the State

During Black History Month, stories of courage and triumph will be told throughout Tennessee with music, exhibits, discussions and more. See below for Black History Month events happening throughout the state.

Clarksville – The CW150 Commission will host a Civil War Freedmen’s Cotillion at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Riverview...

Read more

Agritourism

Tennessee Farm Fresh

Tennessee Farm Fresh is a marketing program for farmers direct marketing products to consumers. The benefits to farmers participating in this program include a listing in the Tennessee Farm Fresh Directory and the TFF website. Each member also receives a package of TFF marketing tools...

Read more

Facts & Trends

TripAdvisor 2011 Travel Trends Released

TripAdvisor recently released the results of its annual travel trends survey of more than 3,000 U.S. travelers. In an indication of eagerness to travel, 36 percent say they plan to spend more on leisure travel in 2011 than 2010, while 42 percent expect to...

Read more

Welcome Center

Employee of the Month December

Jeff Ottinger has been carving out new ways of expressing his self. For the past 12 years, Jeff has carved pumpkins and did a very unique one this autumn. The Building Maintenance Worker carved out the something special in a pumpkin that brought a great...

Read more

Industry Applause

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

Clinton Named as One of the Best Places in America to Raise Kids

Clinton has been selected by BusinessWeek.com as the "Best Place to Raise Kids in Tennessee." The rankings put the most weight on school...

Read more

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, let me say a heartfelt thank you to Governor Bill Haslam for reappointing me as Commissioner of Tourist Development in his new administration. Our department has already received its first personal visit from the Governor, indicating his high regard for the importance of this industry to Tennessee. He had spoken with many of you while on the campaign trail and your message was loud and clear: tourism is a huge economic engine in this state and has the potential to become an even greater one. We certainly appreciated his taking the time to meet our team, especially on his first official day in office, and look forward to a great working relationship with him.

Additionally, Governor Haslam’s announcement of the formation and leadership of a statewide Tourism Committee chaired by Colin Reed, CEO of Gaylord Entertainment, and co-chaired by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. CEO, Jack Soden, and Dolly Parton Production’s President, Ted Miller, is further indication of the important role tourism will play in the economic development plans of this administration. These three nationally-respected leaders have been tasked to determine how to maximize Tennessee’s potential in tourism by attracting more visitors, creating more effective marketing, and coordinating public-private partnerships, among other important goals. They have already begun mapping out a strategy for making this happen, a very exciting development for this industry.

Much has happened in Tennessee tourism in the past two months and I encourage you to read through this newsletter to discover what’s new for 2011 – new attractions, new exhibits, new expansions! Tennessee tourism definitely knows how to keep satisfied visitors coming back over and over again, the key to success in any business.

The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways project continues to be one of the department’s highest priorities. Going forward, this project will be more of a team effort than ever before, involving our regional managers and tourism partners at the regional and local levels. All of us are committed to launch the remaining eleven trails as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

In the mid-state area, the first documentary of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, produced by Nashville Public Television and the Renaissance Center, aired throughout the month of January. This episode, “Secession,” is the first of five programs that will tell the unique Tennessee story. The Civil War Trails, now up to 200 sites across the state, allows visitors to experience firsthand where this history was made. The interest in the Trails has been phenomenal, requiring a second printing of our Civil War Trails map guide in less than six months.

I started this letter by thanking Governor Haslam for the opportunity to serve as Commissioner of Tourist Development under his leadership. I want to end it by thanking each of you for the personal support, encouragement and partnership you have offered to me and this department. I have learned so much from you and am truly honored to serve again in this position. It’s a new year, a new administration and a new opportunity to look at things with fresh eyes so they can be done better and more effectively. It’s what all of you do so successfully year in and year out, making tourism the powerful industry it is in Tennessee.  I have no doubt our best years lie ahead of us.

With great respect,


Susan Whitaker

 

a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Featured Article 

Governor Haslam Tours Department of Tourist Development

In his first official day, Governor Bill Haslam visited Tourism, and Commissioner Whitaker served as his tour guide, taking him throughout the department. It was an honor for the Governor to take time from his busy schedule to visit our department and meet the entire staff, said Commissioner Whitaker.

What’s New in Tennessee for 2011

The year 2011 brings exciting new exhibits, attractions, enhanced destinations and experiences to Tennessee’s already successful tourism industry.

WEST

Graceland, Memphis

Memphis
Newseum exhibit "Elvis! His Groundbreaking, Hip–Shaking, Newsmaking Story" opens at Graceland and tells the story of Presley as he was portrayed in the news media.
The National Civil Rights Museum, assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., celebrates its 20th anniversary with a variety of special programs, all culminating on Nov. 12 with the anniversary of the museum’s Freedom Award event.

Henning
The Alex Haley Interpretive Center opened fall of 2010. The 6,500 square-foot center, owned by the Tennessee Historical Commission, features interactive exhibits, artifacts and mementos.

MIDDLE

Whites Creek
The Fontanel Mansion & Farm, former home of Barbara Mandrell, is now open in Whites Creek. Also onsite are the Farm House Restaurant, walking trails and The Stone House Center and Gift Shop.

Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville

Franklin
The Franklin Theatre will reopen early summer in downtown Franklin. The restored theater will be a state-of-the-art, multi-use entertainment venue for live performances, movies and events.

Nashville
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum features, “Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music,” presented by Great American Country Television Network. The exhibit runs through June 12, 2011.

EAST

Tennessee Valley Railroad, Chattanooga

Pigeon Forge
Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge received The Applause Award, the most prestigious award in the entire international amusement and theme park industry. In 2011, Dollywood will debut the new Barnstormer ride, a $5.5 million family thrill ride.

Chattanooga
The Tennessee Valley Railroad, the largest historic railroad in the south, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Special events and all–day excursions are offered throughout 2011.

Johnson City
Gray Fossil Site and Museum is undergoing a $2 million expansion. A 7,000-square-foot annex will include a café, a wet lab and classrooms.
For a complete listing of what’s new in the tourism industry, visit press.tnvacation.com

SHOWCASE

2011 Tennessee Vacation Guide Has Arrived

The 2011 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide arrived the last week of December at the Nashville tourism offices and at USA800 and distribution to tourism partners and travel consumers is already underway.

This year’s guide features special editorial spotlights on Tennessee’s 150th Commemoration of the American Civil War, Bright Lights & Big Cities, Main Streets & Small Towns and African-American Influences. The Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways initiative is covered in a special five-page spread with additional editorial highlights including Dining and Culinary and Tennessee Spirits. More than 3,000 listings of attractions found throughout the state are one of the most popular resources found in the guide.

On the cover this year is a captivating spring image of Falls Mill in Belvidere. Taken by Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee photographer Robin Hood, the image is one of more than 300 featured in his new 252- page coffee table book “Historic Tennessee.” Sales from the book, which showcases the state’s architectural and natural treasures, will benefit the Tennessee Preservation Trust.

This year’s guide positions Tennessee Tourism on the cutting-edge of technology with the use of QR Codes. For readers with a web-enabled smart phone, QR Codes provide instant access to additional online information. Tennessee is one of the first states in the country to utilize QR Codes in its travel guide. The 2011 guide also continues to drive readers to tnvacation.com, facebook.com/tnvacation, as well as the tourism partner websites. The online version of the entire guide will be available mid-January.

Back by popular demand is an enhanced editorial spread on Tennessee's world-class state parks. This feature includes an article outlining the parks’ special events as well as the many outdoor recreation opportunities for park visitors. In addition, the guide provides a double-page spread with all 53 state parks listed and their locations tracked on an accompanying state map.

An additional enhancement for the 2011 guide is an expanded reader’s service section. This includes an inserted reader response card as well as a full-page listing of all industry partner advertisers with easy-to-follow reader response instructions and corresponding response card numbers.

The glossy magazine-style guide, which features more than 200 pages and spotlights the state’s three grand regions, divided into nine distinct sub-regions, is free to Tennessee residents and visitors and is Tennessee’s most comprehensive and accessible printed resource. The new guide is packed with hundreds of colorful photos, feature articles and descriptions of the state’s attractions, lodging, historic locales, entertainment venues, golf courses, outdoor adventures and more.

More than 500,000 guides are now available for distribution at the state’s 14 Welcome Centers and to tourists requesting the publication via tnvacation.com and 1.800.GO2.TENN. The guide is Tennessee’s primary vacation planning publication and marketing publication for domestic and international trade shows.

For more information, please contact Cindy Dupree at (615) 741-9010 or by e-mail at Cindy.Dupree@tn.gov. You can also contact Leah Caudle at (615) 532-7822 or by e-mail at Leah.Caudle@tn.gov.

2011 TACVB Blizzard Brings Tourism Professionals Together

Tennessee tourism professionals from across the state came together in Murfreesboro for the TACVB Blizzard V, themed “Waves of Change.” The Blizzard focuses on the significance of Tennessee tourism to local and state economic development which generates $13.3 billion in direct economic impact annually.

The 24-hour event, held from noon on January 27 to noon on January 28, was filled with informative and enlightening sessions and keynote presenters. Coach Michael Burt served as the opening keynote session presenter and captivated the audience. Burt, an expert in leadership development, recommended seven decisions to effectively reach the next professional level.

Another main session on the economics of Tennessee tourism further demonstrated the significant role tourism plays in the financial stability of this state. Tourism is the number-one, non-agricultural industry in the state and is a significant economic driver. According to Morse, “overall retail spending for 2009 had a downturn of 11.3% while the tourism downturn was more robust with a 7.8%. Even though the overall spending was down in all areas, tourism had a much stronger resiliency than other industries,” said Morse.

Other topics included Content is King, presented by Paul Winkle of Miles Media, Fam 101-Sales, Sports & Meeting Planners, Fam 101-Travel Writers. Sessions on Friday included “Changing Faces,” Government Relations,” and “Using Social Media during Disasters.”

Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, assistant commissioner with the department of tourism closed the session and focused on the industry working together.

The annual event was sponsored by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus and Miles Media.

“The beauty and diversity of Tennessee is matched only by the talent and diversity of the professionals welcoming visitors! Thanks to all our speakers, sponsors, industry partners, and attendees for another great conference. We began over five years ago with 71 attendees, and this year we more than doubled that number” said Sheila Leggett, Executive Director of TACVB. “Dr. Phyllis Qualls-Brooks energized us, and sent us on our way with this advice … GO HOME and spread the word.”

Civil War

Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Documentary Airs on NPT

The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial documentary commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War premiered on Nashville Public Television in January and was broadcast throughout the month. The project serves as an educational resourceto preserve thehistory and the important role Tennessee played in theCivil War.

The first episode,"Secession” explored why many Tennesseans chose to join the Confederate States of America and fight a new war for their independence.

"NPT joins many organizations in Tennesseecommemorating the sesquicentennial of the war," saidBeth Curley, president and CEO of NPT. "Throughoutthe state, and especially here in Middle Tennessee,there are markers and reminders of the horror andheroism of those dark days in our nation's history.As an educational resource, we feel that it's ourmission to preserve that history, and providecontext for viewers, now and for generations tocome."

The second documentary will focus on Civil War music and will air in April. The goal of the series is to inspire those tuning in to dig deeper on their own. Hopefully, we’ll bring some clarity to this controversial topic, and create a few new history buffs in the process,” said Jones.

During the next five years, Tennessee Civil War 150will focus on several areas of life in Tennessee,including the role of women, rivers & railways,music, the African-American experience and theBattle of Shiloh. The series will be supported by acomprehensive website and short broadcast vignettesthat expand on the content in the documentaries.

The project is a partnership of theTennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission,Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Tennessee Department of Education,Nashville Public Television and the Renaissance Center.For more information, please visit tncivilwar150.com.

Updated Tennessee Civil War Trails Map Guides Now Available

The map guide identifies nearly 200 Civil War sites throughout Tennessee on this self-guided tour of the trails.

“More than 500,000 copies of the original mapguide were distributed to the traveling public in little morethan six months," said Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker, who serves as co-chair of the Sesquicentennial Commission. "The popularity of this brochure is a strong indicator of the high interest tourists are showing in Tennessee's important Civil War History. The map guide is a great resource for Civil War enthusiasts as well astravelers with a general interest in exploring Civil War history, especiallyduring the 150th commemoration."

"Our new edition and expansion of the Civil War trail guide takes you from famous battlefields to stories of guerilla fighting and the heroism of the home front, places all over Tennessee that tell our unique and fascinating Civil War heritage," said Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University and co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

The map guide journeys through the statewide Tennessee Civil War National Heritage area, which is highlighted by approximately 200 trail markers. Each site can be explored at one’s own pace, and many offer other historical and recreational opportunities. Hundreds of antique and specialty shops can be found on the trails, in addition to taverns and restaurants, preserved battlefields and much more.

The Tennessee Civil War Trails program is part of a five-state trails system that encourages the exploration of both well-known and less-familiar sites associated with the Civil War. Together, more than 1,000 places tell the stories of civilians and soldiers during the war in Tennessee, as well as Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. Knowledge of the trails in Tennessee reaches 2.5 million through cross-promotion with the other four states.

The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The five-year commemoration of the war, beginning this year and lasting until 2015, will highlight events and stories of the Civil War. For more information, please visit tncivilwar150.com.

Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways

One of Tourism’s Highest Priorities

As one of the most comprehensive departmental initiatives in tourism’s history, the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways is one of the departments’ highest priorities for the new year.

A strategic planning meeting was led by Commissioner Whitaker and attended by tourism’s entire marketing and communications team, as well as representatives from all agency partners, including White Thompson, Design Sensory, Paramore Redd and Miles Media. This meeting set the tone for a strong team effort going forward, involving tourism’s regional managers and tourism partners at the regional and local levels. Regional Tourism Association directors, many of whom already play a crucial role in the development of the trails, will be asked to continue to as key partners in this important statewide project.

Most recently, the department launched The Walking Tall Trail. Events were held Graceland, the historic home of legendary entertainer Elvis Presley, and at the home of the late Sheriff Buford Pusser, for whom the trail is named.

The Walking Tall Trail travels 360 miles in West Tennessee and features 196 attractions along the way. This project is a labor of love for Southwest Tennessee Tourism Association and eight southwest Tennessee counties. “Many hours have been spent selecting historic sites, museums, great places to eat and to just stop and have fun,” stated Marybeth Hopper, executive director of Southwest Tennessee Tourism Association.

The Walking Tall Trail launch saw strong national, regional and local media coverage, including

the Associated Press, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Washington State, Birmingham News, and many more. FOX News Radio and Travel Queen Radio both did interviews and then the story went viral. The count is still coming in on complete media coverage for the trail. The media can’t seem to get enough of Elvis, Casey Jones, Carl Perkins, Herb Parsons and Sheriff Buford Pusser.

With 11 more trails to be launched Tennessee will remain in the media spotlight picking up the wonderful stories that make our state a great vacation destination for tourists and locals alike. The next trails to be launched are The Jack; Pie in the Sky; Great River Road and TN River Trail. The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program incorporates all 95 counties and Tennessee’s five National Scenic Byways. For more information about each trail, visit www.tntrailsandbyways.com.

Black History Month Celebrated Across the State

During Black History Month, stories of courage and triumph will be told throughout Tennessee with music, exhibits, discussions and more. See below for Black History Month events happening throughout the state.

Clarksville – The CW150 Commission will host a Civil War Freedmen’s Cotillion at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Riverview Inn. There will be dinner, period music, dancing and historical interpretations and a special guest, FREED, during the event. For more information, please visit www.clarksvillecivilwar.com.

Dickson – The Clement Railroad Hotel Museum/Hotel Halbrook Historic Site will host a presentation by researcher/author John Baker at 2 p.m. Feb. 26. Addressing African American genealogical research, Baker will present the challenges he faced while researching his family history. For more information, please call (615) 446-0500.

Franklin – On Feb. 26, The Battle of Franklin Trust will host interpreter and storyteller Dr. Naima Johnston-Bush who will perform Negro spirituals and will discuss the songs’ history and significance as a historical American art. The event will be held at 1 p.m. at the Fleming Center. For more information, please contact Leigh Bawcom at leigh@battleoffranklintrust.org.

Hartsville – William Herman Wright will be recognized at St. John Missionary Baptist Church at 2 p.m. Feb. 5. Wright is one of two living African Americans from the Macon/Trousdale area who served in World War II.

Knoxville The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is a learning museum of African-American history and culture that researches, collects, conserves and exhibits achievements of African Americans. The museum’s exhibitions are on display 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, please visit http://www.discoveret.org/beckcec/index.html.

Lebanon – Fiddlers Grove Historic Village will host “Emancipation to Leadership,” which will feature tours and demonstrations with a special focus on the Cartmell Cabin, Wheeler School and AC Wharton Store. For more information, please visit, www.fiddlersgrove.org.

Livingston – The Overton County Historical Society will host The Underground Railroad Code, a colorful and informative demonstration of how quilts were used to send messages to runaway slaves during the 1800s. Quilts will be on display Feb. 1-3 at the Millard Oakley Public Library. For more information, please visit www.overtonco.com.

Memphis – The National Civil Rights Museum celebrates this year its 20th anniversary. The museum will offer a number special programs and activities throughout the year in commemoration. For more information, please visit www.civilrightsmuseum.org.

The Hermitage, Home of Andrew Jackson

Nashville – The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson will present various celebrations throughout the month of February. A Celebration of Music, taking place Feb. 3, will present spirituals to contemporary gospel songs sung by area church choirs. A Celebration of Dance, held Feb. 10, will present a retrospective of dance, from African traditions through the present day. Culinary historian Michael Twitty will present an interactive food program during A Celebration of Food on Feb. 17. During A Celebration of Legacy, representatives from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be on hand to discuss the legacy of slavery and its continued impact on Feb. 24. For more information, please visit www.thehermitage.com.

Celebrate Black History Month at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art with a special program where visitors can learn about the stone carvings of William Edmondson, his contribution to African American Art, and the intriguing time in which he lived and worked. For more information, please visit www.cheekwood.org.

The Adventure Science Center’s Biomedical Faces of Science exhibit focuses on minorities in science careers. The exhibit, on display throughout February, is a multi-media, inquiry-based exhibit designed to encourage the next generation of researchers and scientists. The center will also feature the planetarium show, “Skywatchers of Africa,” which highlights the diversity of African astronomy and celebrates the shared human experience. For more information, please visit www.adventuresci.com.

Jazz guitarist, Geary Moore, an accomplished composer and master technician will perform Feb. 3 at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ Music in the Café program. Moore spent a large portion of his professional career working in New York and has performed with a “Who’s Who” of musicians, including George Benson, Jimmy Ponder, Arthur Prysock, Ruth Brown and more. For more information, please visit www.fristcenter.org.

The Scarritt-Bennett Center will host Dialogues on Racism every Tuesday, Feb. 1-March 8. The event features a dialogue circle of eight to 12 diverse individuals discussing feelings, opinions and thoughts in a non-defensive, non-critical environment. For more information, please visit www.scarrittbennett.org.

B.B. King’s Blues Club and Restaurant will host its Music City Soul Series every Thursday in February. Each week, a different group of artists will perform during this soul music concert series. For more information, please visit www.bbkingclubs.com.

Part of Vanderbilt University’s International Lens Film Series, “Freedom House: Street Saviors,” will be shown, taking a look at the economically disadvantaged African Americans in 1967 who created the country’s first specially-trained paramedic emergency unit. For more information, please visit www.vanderbilt.edu/internationallens/.

Oak Ridge – The American Museum of Science and Energy will host a special exhibit, Scarboro, Tennessee: The Early Days 1942-1960, opening Feb. 6 and running through April 25. Through photographs, artifacts and oral history, visitors will learn about the lives of African Americans who lived in Scarboro from the World War II Manhattan Project through 1960. For more information, please visit www.amse.org.

Agritourism

Tennessee Farm Fresh

Tennessee Farm Fresh is a marketing program for farmers direct marketing products to consumers. The benefits to farmers participating in this program include a listing in the Tennessee Farm Fresh Directory and the TFF website. Each member also receives a package of TFF marketing tools including a personalized TFF banner, 100 TFF stickers, TFF pens, price cards and reusable bags.

The program is in place for producers across the state who are marketing fruits, vegetables, meat, nursery, dairy, honey and many other products directly to consumers.

For more information about Tennessee Farm Fresh, please contact Tiffany at toward@tfbf.com.

Farmland Legacy Partnership

Enhanced Tax Incentives for Land Conservation In Place Through Dec. 2011

Late in 2010, Congress renewed significant changes to the Federal income tax incentives for conservation agreement donations. The changes:

Raised the deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation agreement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%;
Allowed qualifying farmers and farm corporations to deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income; and
Increased the number of years over which any donor can take those deductions from 6 years to 16 years beginning the year the donation is made.

Changes are set to expire on December 31st 2011.

If you or anyone you know is considering a conservation agreement on their land, now is the time to call The Land Trust for Tennessee and set up an initial site visit.

To receive additional information about these enhanced tax incentives, please call (615) 244-5263 or visit www.landtrusttn.org.

TripAdvisor 2011 Travel Trends Released

TripAdvisor recently released the results of its annual travel trends survey of more than 3,000 U.S. travelers. In an indication of eagerness to travel, 36 percent say they plan to spend more on leisure travel in 2011 than 2010, while 42 percent expect to spend the same. Ninety percent plan to take two or more leisure trips this year. Of those surveyed, 89 percent indicated they had done so in 2010.

The survey also uncovered a significant increase of interest in vacation rental homes (47 percent). These numbers are up from 39 percent one year ago.

Eco traveling may also continue to be a factor this year. 47 percent will take eco-friendly factors into consideration, such as their carbon footprint or “green” hotel policies, when making travel plans in 2011.20 percent expect to be more environmentally conscious in their travel decision and choices next year.

Respondents to the survey stated that the best travel development of 2010 was an increase in online travel deals. Their top two concerns for 2011 are rising airfares (40 percent) and bedbugs (20 percent).

Top Vacation Activities for 2011:

1. Visiting an historic site – 85 percent
2. Visiting a museum – 73 percent
3. Visiting a national park – 46 percent
4. Attending a festival – 43 percent
5. Hiking – 42 percent
6. Water activities - 38 percent

511 Closes Out 2010 with Record Number of Calls

More than 186,000 people turned to Tennessee 511 for travel information in December 2010. The monthly total breaks the previous record of 179,992 calls to the service, which was set in May 2010 when devastating floods impacted much of the state. Since the program launch in August 2006, 3.2 million calls were received by 511 for information about Tennessee's roadways and weather.

In March of 2010, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) launched a new enhanced 511 service which now also provides information on rest areas, public transportation, airports and Tennessee tourism. The state’s 511 also provides weather conditions, Amber Alerts, TDOT's Record-A-Comment phone line and connections to the 511 systems in neighboring states, such as Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina.

TDOT also has a Tennessee 511 website at http://www.tn511.com/ where travelers may access this information before leaving home.

T3 is Now Live

Visit tnvacation.com/t3 to see the latest hot Tennessee travel deals. For more information on how to participate in this promotional campaign please contact Christa Booker at cbooker@paramoreredd.com or 615-324-8989.

Welcome Center

Employee of the Month December

Jeff Ottinger has been carving out new ways of expressing his self. For the past 12 years, Jeff has carved pumpkins and did a very unique one this autumn. The Building Maintenance Worker carved out the something special in a pumpkin that brought a great deal of attention from visitors at the I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Center.

For his great service to the tourists and fellow staff members, Jeff was selected as the Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for December 2010.

"I'm quite honored. I enjoy carving and am glad this brought some attention to our Welcome Center", said Jeff.

"Jeff is a very hard worker and is great with the public," said I-26 Welcome Center Manager Jackie Rains. "He showed his creativity by carving a pumpkin with our Tennessee Tourism logo on it which was a big hit with the tourists. He has been a wonderful addition to our staff."

Jeff transferred to the Department of Tourist Development in May 2010 after 15 years with the Department of Children's Services.

Employee of the Month January

Gary Woody of the I-40 Cocke County (Hartford) Welcome Center is the Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for January 2011. Gary is a Building Maintenance Worker I and has been with the Department since 1991.

Gary Woody

He is a dependable, hardworking employee who takes pride in his job and consistently displays concern about the well-being of his fellow employees and the customers who visit the Hartford Welcome Center. This has been documented by his job performance over the years and by many wonderful letters sent in by customers. Recently when the extreme cold weather hit, Gary worked several double shifts when other employees were not able to safely travel to work. "Gary goes out of his way to work as a team player and to provide great customer service," said Hartford Welcome Center Manager Derrick Proffitt. "It is always refreshing to see someone think as much of others as they do themselves," Proffitt said. "He always goes out of his way to make sure the job is done right the first time. All of us who work with Gary at the Hartford Welcome Center are extremely proud and thankful that he is on our team."

Congratulations, Gary, for a job well done!

Industry Applause

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

Clinton Named as One of the Best Places in America to Raise Kids

Clinton has been selected by BusinessWeek.com as the "Best Place to Raise Kids in Tennessee." The rankings put the most weight on school performance and the number of schools, crime statistics and cost of living. Other factors included job growth, air quality, ethnic diversity and access to recreational amenities (within the county), such as parks, zoos, theaters and museums.

TSU Choir Performs To Honor Oprah At Kennedy Center Awards

Congratulations to Tennessee native Oprah Winfrey who received the Kennedy Center Honors award. She was one offive recipients. Also congratulations to the Tennessee State University choir who accompanied Jennifer Hudson in a tribute to Oprah, who graduated from that institution. The program was taped in early December and broadcast on December 28.

Frist Center for the Visual Arts Receives $20,000 Grant

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts has been approved for a grant of $20,000 to support the exhibition "Vishnu: Hinduism's Blue-Skinned Savior," and its accompanying education programs.

The Frist Center-organized exhibition "Vishnu: Hinduism's Blue-Skinned Savior," opening Feb. 20, 2011, is the first major museum exhibition to focus on Vishnu, one of Hindu's three major deities. It will remain on view at the Frist Center through May 29, 2011. The exhibition presents approximately 150 paintings and sculptures made in India between the fourth and 20th centuries.

Grand Ole Opry Voted Best Place to Experience Music

The Grand Ole Opry was voted No. 1 in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Best Places to Experience Music category. The Opry’s Saturday night, live radio broadcast on Nashville’s WSM station was featured in the spotlight.

Now in its 86th year, the Grand Ole Opry is the country’s longest continuous radio show. The show has played host to numerous country music legends, including Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash. The Opry continues to showcase the legends of country music as well as the industry’s rising new stars.

Johnson City Indoor Track Championship Chosen as Best Collegiate, Multi-Sport Event

The NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championship was chosen recently as "Best Collegiate Multi-Sport or Multi-Discipline Event" by "SportsTravel" magazine.

The winning event was organized by the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, hosted by Milligan College and held at the East Tennessee State University Mini Dome March 4-6, 2010. The NAIA track event brought 109 collegiate teams and more than 3,000 athletes, coaches and fans from all over the United States and Canada to the area.

Memphis

Memphis Receives its First Green-Certified Hotel

The Tennessee Hospitality Association has awarded the Doubletree Hotel Memphis its Tennessee Green Hospitality certificate for the hotel’s conservation efforts. In addition to being the first green certified hotel in Memphis, the Doubletree Hotel is also the only green certified hotel in West Tennessee. Currently there are 21 certified Tennessee Green Hospitality hotels statewide, including the Memphis hotel and two other Doubletree Hotels owned by Memphis-based Cooper Hotels.

Nashville Zoo Set All-Time Attendance Record In 2010

The Nashville Zoo The zoo saw a total of 633,984 visitors in 2010, setting an all-time annual attendance record and an increase in zoo membership by five percent. Officials attributed the successful year to the opening of The Memorial Foundation Flamingo Lagoon exhibit and the growth of the zoo's membership program. This year, the zoo plans a spring debut of the Masai giraffe born Nov. 3 and two African elephants that joined their herd in November from the Jackson Zoo. A new train ride will be introduced that offers scenic tours of off-exhibit areas not normally seen by the public.

Columbia Named One of America’s Best Places to Live

Columbia was voted by Livability.com as one of the best places to live in the United States.

Mule Day Parade, Columbia

The article cited the city’s rich history, green spaces and charm as reasons it received top ranking. “The historic district in the heart of Columbia, the county’s largest city, includes a restored courthouse and a revitalized town square bustling with shops, antique stores and restaurants,” the article read. “Outdoor recreation is abundant, from the 242-acre Maury County Park to Stillhouse Hollow Falls, a state natural area with a cascading 75-foot waterfall. Thousands of visitors come to Columbia each April for the signature Mule Day event, a four-day celebration featuring mule and horse shows, arts and crafts, a flea market and food.”

Nashville and Pigeon Forge Hotels Rated Best in U.S. by Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice for Top 25 Best Hotels in the United States named two Tennessee hotels in the ranking. The Inn At Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge was named No. 6 out of 25 best hotels. The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville made the list at No. 17.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Awarded $35,000 Grant

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has received a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which will allow the museum to expand its acclaimed Words & Music program.

The program encourages students to express themselves creatively and learn the craft of lyric writing. With the help of the grant, the museum was able to work closely with Metro Nashville Public School officials to select the schools that will participate in the program. They chose 74 elementary schools, focusing on fourth grade classes. During the 2010-11 school year, 37 schools will participate in the Words & Music Outreach program. All participating music and classroom teachers will be trained to use the museum’s curriculum and will teach the material, which includes lyric-writing exercises, to their classes during a four-week period.

Tourism Regional Manager Serves as Commencement Speaker at ITT Tech Graduation

Derrick Smith

As part of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development ongoing education initiative, Derrick Smith, the Middle Tennessee Regional Manager, served as the commencement speaker for the December class of ITT Technical Institute.

"ITT Technical Institute's Nashville campus was honored to have Derrick Smith, deliver the commencement address to a class of 71 graduates," said Yvonne Cano, Director of Career Services. "Mr. Smith's message was not only uplifting but he gave the graduates some practical ways in which to utilize their degrees."

Smith shared information on areas of possibilities for graduates in the tourism industry as well as other fields. He emphasized the importance of having the consumer in mind regardless of your career path.

Quote of the Month

"Your world is as big as you make it."- Georgia Douglas Johnson, Poet

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You