Dear Tourism Colleagues,
2007 has arrived and with it, that wonderful sense of new beginnings and fresh opportunities. Life is moving at a record pace with revolutionary advancements in technology and global communications. Time magazine recognized the revolution by naming “You” as their 2006 Person of the Year - that “You” being the collective “Us” who use the World Wide Web or Internet, as it’s commonly known.
Now, more than ever, the Internet is essential in meeting the needs of travelers. According to Travel Industry of America’s latest “Travelers Use of the Internet” report, more than 120 million adults are online users, 79 million adults plan travel online, and 44.6 million booked some kind of travel online in the past 12 months. Those numbers all represent substantial increases over the preceding year. It’s become very clear that every travel destination needs to have a great website in order to compete in today’s world.
:pullquote:For this reason, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has spent an increasing amount of time and resources to develop our Internet presence. Front and center for Tennessee tourism and technology is the remarkable success of our website tnvacation.com.
According to Alexa website rankings, tnvacation.com is America’s #1 most popular state tourism site. Currently the site is still on the first page of Google’s search results using the key word “vacation.” January-November of 2006 saw 3,374,158 total visits to the site and 26, 281,731 page views. Those have already far exceeded 2005’s visits of 2,133,062. Our Dolly/Elvis television spot and print campaigns continue to drive interested vacationers to the site and on to the rest of Tennessee’s linked tourism websites. We want to see this trend continue and accelerate throughout the new year!
Tnvacation.com’s creative design helps brand our state as a cutting-edge tourism destination. It is comprehensive in delivering information about Tennessee, including more than 3,000 tourism partner vendor pages. Website expansions for 2007 include Group Sales, Careers in tourism, German and Spanish translations and a newly renovated Kids Section.
Important to Tennessee Tourism’s World Wide Web presence is our continuing expansion into internet and search engine marketing. Tennessee Tourism ads are strategically placed on more than a dozen popular travel sites which will result in over 60 million impressions from online media just in FY 2007 alone.
Representing Tennessee on regional and national tourism boards affords me many opportunities to interact with travel professionals from around the world. It has been gratifying to receive positive feedback about Tennessee and the position we have carved out as one of the leading states to successfully integrate tourism and technology. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions regarding our on-going efforts on behalf of tourism in Tennessee.
On a personal note, in December, my first granddaughter (and my fourth grandchild) was born in Columbia, Missouri. Two feelings came over me as I held little Chloe Christine for the first time: a sense of humility at the wonder of new life, and a sense of anticipation for all the fun we’re going to have together, especially in Tennessee. I know she will love this beautiful state as much as I do – she is, after all, the newest direct descendent of John Sevier! It’s in her genes!
And, as we look to the future and all that 2007 will bring, I look forward to working with all of you in continuing to make Tennessee the premier tour and travel destination in the country.
Best wishes to all of you for a blessed and happy new year!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
TTR Announces New Executive Director
Dave Perella, Chairman of the Board of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable announced that John Whisenant is the organization’s newly appointed Executive Director.
“John brings a wealth of industry knowledge as well as a working knowledge of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development with him to this position,” said Perella.
:pullquote:Whisenant formally served as Executive Director of the Williamson County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau. He has also served on the TTR board and as chairman of TTR’s education committee.
“Tennessee Tourism Roundtable is committed to providing a unified voice on statewide tourism issues. I’m excited to have the opportunity to lead this important tourism organization and look forward to working with my colleagues across the state,” said Whisenant.
Whisenant will work on a part time capacity until the end of February and begin full time with TTR on March 1st. The transition will allow completion of numerous projects Whisenant is involved in with the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce. Whisenant replaces Roger Spivey.
The Tennessee Tourism Roundtable is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote the tourism industry in Tennessee. TTR is an association of associations comprised of the Tennessee Hotel and Lodging Association, the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Tennessee Attractions Association and Tennessee Restaurant Association.
Scenic Byways Grants - Apply Now!
The Tennessee Department of Transportation is pleased to invite Tennessee's Scenic Byways community to submit preliminary applications for FY07 scenic byway funds.
These funds, administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, have the potential to bring numerous tourism-related improvements across the state. Some of these improvements will enable communities to nominate their byways as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads. The National Scenic Byway and All American Road Designations were established as part of the National Scenic Byways Program as a way to increase tourism, stimulate local economies and protect distinctive assets along byways in addition to identifying the country’s most scenic and historically significant roads.
If your byway group is interested in applying for these funds, please go to www.bywaysonline.org and visit the grants page to receive instructions on how to proceed with your application. The submission deadline is March 2, 2007, 5 pm Central Time. Applications must arrive in the TDOT office (Tennessee Department of Transportation, 505 Deaderick St., James K. Polk Building Suite 400, Nashville, TN 37243) by 5 pm. on this date.
Complete details and instructions on how to complete your application, including a downloadable application package, are available at www.bywaysonline.org
PLEASE NOTE: The application process has changed this year. You are now required to fill out the SF-424 form on www.grants.gov in addition to filling out the Scenic Byways application. Click here to download this form from the GRANTS.GOV website.
Please contact Roxanna Pierce, State Coordinator in the Tennessee Department of Transportation at 615-741-6896 phone, 615-532-5995 fax, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need further instruction.
The Elvis Presley Legacy Highlights Major Milestones: Across the State Many Attractions Celebrate Anniversaries
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Still he remains the most recognized name in entertainment and the top seller of number one records, movies and memorabilia. Each year it is estimated that more that 600,000 fans come to Tennessee to visit his home, Graceland Mansion. This National Historic Landmark is the second most visited private residence in the United States, other than the White House. This year Graceland/Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) will celebrate four milestones.
January 8 marks the anniversary of the birth of Elvis. Each year, EPE and area organizations present four days of events for what is equivalent to a condensed version of Elvis Week.
Elvis Week 2007 will mark the 30th anniversary of Elvis’s passing. This August celebration is expected to be the biggest, most exciting week ever. “We might see 60,000 to 70,000 people total over the course of the nine days of Elvis Week 2007” said Todd Morgan, Director of Media and Community Development for EPE. The Memphis community will pay tribute to “The King” and welcome fans from around the world with an exciting parade down historic Beale Street.
:pullquote:The celebration also includes Elvis: The 30th Anniversary Concert, starring the real Elvis Presley, via video technology, accompanied live on stage by an orchestra, a large cast of his original concert musicians and back-up singers, and special guests. EPE will also present its first Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. “The number of Elvis fans around the world continues to increase as younger people are exposed to Elvis,” stated Paul Jankowski, Chief Marketing Officer for EPE. “The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest is another way to celebrate Elvis’s on-going contribution to the world of entertainment."
Just in case you can’t wait for Elvis Week, don’t forget that this spring is the 50th Anniversary of Elvis’s purchase of Graceland. This coincides with the 25th year of the mansion being open for public tours. In March, Thomas Kinkade, the Painter of Light™, will unveil a commemorative painting of Tennessee’s newest National Historic Landmark.
For more information, visit www.Elvis.com
Across the state, there are numerous other anniversary celebrations this year. Those that were known at press time include:
Gatlinburg, the gateway city to the Smoky Mountains, is celebrating its bicentennial
Nashville continues its 200 year celebration through July 4, 2007
Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville will celebrate its 200th anniversary
Warren County celebrates its bicentennial
Lenoir City will celebrate its centennial
Rock City in Chattanooga turns 75
Nashville Children's Theatre is celebrating its 75th Anniversary as the oldest professional Children's Theatre in the country
The 50th Anniversary of RCA Studio B
Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Stax Music Academy will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stax Records and 50 years of soul music
The Bluebird Café in Nashville celebrates 25 years in June
Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede turns 20
We will include other anniversaries in future issues.
Tennesseans Celebrate Japanese Birthday
Tennesseans were recently on hand to help celebrate the birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito. Japanese custom calls on all Consulates around the world to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday.
Held in New Orleans at the U.S. Japanese Consulate, the event was hosted by Consul-General Masuru Sakato.
Dignitaries attending from Tennessee included Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Humboldt Mayor Allen Barker and Franklin Mayor Tom Miller. Nissan’s announcement of the relocation of their North American headquarters to Cool Springs in Franklin is just the latest in Japanese business expansion to Tennessee.
“With the relocation of the Nissan headquarters to Tennessee, doors continue to open for expanding our tourism efforts to Japan. We are excited and look forward to seeing more and more Japanese tourists make Tennessee their vacation destination,” stated Commissioner Whitaker.
Ardmore Welcome Center
Since September 15, 1967 the Tennessee Welcome Center located on I-65 (mile marker 3) near the Tennessee/Alabama line in Ardmore has welcomed visitors from the southern region of the United States into our State. In 2005, 380,760 vehicles transporting 951,900 visitors entered the center. The small town of Ardmore is located in two states and four counties; Giles and Lincoln counties in Tennessee and Limestone and Madison counties in Alabama.
The Ardmore Welcome Center also has an important place in history as the location of the first 1.8 mile section of the interstate highway in Tennessee. Opened to traffic on November 15, 1958, this short stretch of interstate costs $1.3 million.
:pullquote:A historical marker was unveiled at the center on June 29, 2006, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the interstate highway system in Tennessee. Legislation creating the system was passed only two years prior on June 29, 1956. Tennessee’s own Senator Albert Gore, Sr. was the author and principal sponsor of the legislation. A delegation from the Tennessee Department of Transportation as well as representatives from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development participated in the unveiling.
"Over the years, lots of visitors from all over the world have walked through our doors," said Janice Rich, center manager. " We have a devoted staff here at the Ardmore Welcome Center, and our main goal is to assist the travelers in whatever their needs might be, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. The welcome center employees are like mail carriers. Regardless of the weather, rain, hail, sleet, or snow, we go. We will be here to assist the travelers with road conditions, weather, and accommodations, a place to get a hot meal or whatever their needs may be. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to assist our visitors to the great state of Tennessee."
Dolly Parton was honored recently with The Kennedy Center’s lifetime achievement award, the nation’s highest award for artistic achievement. In addition, the Tennessean named Dolly Parton the 2006 Tennessean of the Year!
B.B. King, the Memphis bluesman and Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer, was one of ten receipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. The celebration took place at the White House in December.
Robyn Nelson has been named executive director of Knoxville Dogwood Arts Festival.
Casey Jones Village is featured in the winter issue of Tennessee Home and Farm magazine.
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center debuted its first podcast as the national award-winning property moves forward with plans to communicate through more progressive technology.
Atlantic Monthly magazine ranks Elvis Presley at number 66 in shaping America. The list includes a brief description of each person, such as the one for Elvis: “The King of rock and roll. Enough said.”
Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council announces 2006 Tourism Excellence Awards.
Volunteer of the Year – Clayton Pangle, Loudon County Visitors Bureau
Budget greater than $1 million
Special Event: 4th of July at Midnight Parade, Gatlinburg Department of Tourism
Advertising/Promotion: The Peaceful Side of the Smokies, Smoky Mountains Visitor Center
Special Projects: The Best Route to Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg Department of Tourism
Public Relations: Free Tank of Gasoline, Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism
Budget less than $1 million
Advertising/Promotion: Best Route to Gatlinburg, Cocke County Tourism’s Partnership
Special Projects: Website- Cherohala Skyway, Monroe County Department of Tourism
Make your plans now to attend the Tennessee Sampler. Exclusive for Tennessee partners, the sales blitz and trade show event will be held March 27-29 in Tampa, Florida.
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.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You