Happy New Year!
Yes, we certainly are in a very new year, faced with new opportunities and new challenges and there is no other industry I would rather be a part of than tourism, especially now. We are an industry that is resilient and skillful. We strive for excellence and are persistent, and above all we are passionate about what we do.
There is no way to sugar-coat the current financial situation. All the national reports reveal that we are experiencing hard times - but hard times do not mean end times. We will have to work smarter and harder to retain our customers, as well as gain new ones. This I know we can do!
Customer service will be a major key to the success of our industry. We have always had a strong focus on customers and now our industry stands out because we truly believe every customer is important. When a ticket is purchased, a meal served or lodging booked, our industry has the opportunity to gain a customer for a lifetime of experiences. No one does this better than tourism professionals. As was stressed at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism this past September, excellent service creates repeat business, while poor customer service drives people away, never to return.
In addition to customer service, the tour and travel industry is going to have to market strategically, using all of our resources and partnerships. As an example, TIA has changed its name to the U.S. Travel Association to better represent our industry to all. (Read more about this change in Facts and Trends in this newsletter.)
Tennessee tourism has two great opportunities to network and partner in the next sixty days. The TACVB Blizzard, taking place in Nashville later this month, will be an opportunity to learn about current trends and develop new tactics for times such as these. And, the Tennessee Sampler will take place Feb. 9-11 in Washington D. C. featuring Dolly Parton, who is our signature spokesperson promoting Tennessee Tourism and also the ambassador of the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Read more about these activities in this newsletter.)
In closing, though we may be bombarded with news about financial turbulence, it’s time to make plans to move forward, by working together to provide meaningful and memorable experiences for the citizens of Tennessee, the nation and the world. I am grateful for all the contributions members of the tourism industry continue to make and I look forward to learning of more achievements and accomplishments in the future. My staff and I stand ready to work with you, this year and beyond.
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
The 2009 Tennessee Sampler will take place Feb. 9 – 11 in Washington D.C., and we are thrilled to feature an evening with Dolly Parton. As ambassador of the 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dolly’s performance will include a sneak preview of Dollywood's new show, "Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke," with all songs written by Dolly Parton.
Held at Gaylord's newest property, Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, this year's Tennessee Sampler kicks off with a Tennessee partner dinner at the resort on Monday night, a PR event on Tuesday, followed by a tradeshow / reception Tuesday evening.
Considering difficult economic times and budget constraints, we have decided not to include sales calls this year, because fortunately for us, Dolly's popularity is sure to draw a tremendous crowd to the Tennessee Sampler event.
Don't miss this exciting team effort with CVBs, regional tourism associations, hotels and attractions from across the state!
All participants must complete the registration process, including hotel reservations, by Jan. 23, 2009. For additional information and registration, please visit www.tnvacation.com/tnsampler.
What’s New in ’09
TENNESSEE TOURISM RELEASES 2009 VACATION GUIDE
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has officially released the 2009 Tennessee Vacation Guide. New to this year’s guide is a special Great Smoky Mountain National Park feature highlighting the 75th anniversary of the park. Another new feature is the delectable culinary tourism section which showcases local cuisine from across the state.
For the first time in Tennessee Vacation Guide history, the cover features an oil-on-canvas painting - "Autumn Breezes" by Knoxville resident Jim Gray. Gray’s passion for painting the Great Smoky Mountain National park has helped raise public awareness of the park since he began painting the park in the 1960s.
“Featuring “Autumn Breezes” on the cover of this year’s vacation guide, which celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the perfect way to honor two of Tennessee’s priceless gifts,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker.
More than 500,000 guides are available for distribution at the state’s 13 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 tradeshows.
Great Smoky Mountains National
Park in Winter
Tennessee Partners Reach Milestones and Launch Prime Attractions in 2009
The year 2009 brings several significant additions to the tourism industry and some important historical milestones. This is an exciting time for new exhibits, attractions, hotels, restaurants and experiences in Tennessee.
One of the most important milestones is the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many major events are being held both in the park and throughout the gateway cities to commemorate this monumental event. The Tennessee Sampler will feature Dolly Parton, the park’s official 75th anniversary ambassador, to help launch the 75th anniversary year-long celebration. The Sampler will be held in Washington D.C. on February 10 at Gaylord National. For more information on the park and events, visit www.greatsmokies75th.org.
Another important 2009 milestone is the 100th anniversary of the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The highlight of the year-long festivities includes a special big-band concert by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, whose original band members put the Terminal Station on the map with their recording of “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” For more information, visit www.choochoo.com.
Giles County and the City of Pulaski are celebrating their 200th anniversary in 2009. The county and city were formed out of the same legislative act on Nov 14, 1809. http://www.pulaski-tn.com/CityOfPulaski/Default.htm
In East Tennessee, Belle Island Village, a $114 million, 26-acre, themed development with retail, hospitality and entertainment venues, is projecting a spring 2009 grand opening. Featured at Belle Island Village will be Debbie Reynolds’ Hollywood Museum and Darrell Waltrip’s Racing Experience. http://www.belleisland.com/.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood introduces its most elaborate show ever, "Sha-Kon-0-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke,"featuring new songs by Dolly Parton. The show captures the powerful story of the founding of the park through its portrayal of the settlers, the rail and lumbermen, the shiners and the Native Americans who dwelled there. www.dollywood.com.
The Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum of American Art team up to bring a special exhibition to Chattanooga in May, 2009. Jellies: Living Art showcases jellyfish, some of the most mysterious creatures on Earth, alongside breathtaking glass sculptures inspired by nature. Works of art will be featured at both the Tennessee Aquarium and the Hunter Museum. http://www.tnaqua.org/.
In Middle Tennessess, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts will host “Medieval Treasures from the Cleveland Museum of Art,” February 13-June 7. The Cleveland Museum of Art possesses one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of early Christian, Byzantine and medieval European art in the world. http://www.fristcenter.org/
There will soon be a lot more to love at the Loveless Café in Nashville.The Loveless Barn is scheduled for completion by January 2009. It will be an exciting new venue space located on the historic Loveless Cafe property.http://www.lovelessbarn.com/.
The James K Polk home in Columbia, Tenn. will have a new museum. Polk Presidential Hall will be an exhibit and program hall hosting four exhibits per year, some from the Smithsonian. http://www.jameskpolk.com/new/.
West Tennessee will have a major expansion at The Casey Jones Home & Museum in Jackson. A brand new museum is scheduled for completion in spring 2009. The museum will feature extensive architectural design elements, creating a truly authentic train station experience and allowing for greatly enhanced exhibits. http://www.caseyjones.com/.
Memphis Zoo, voted the number one zoo in America on TripAdvisor’s top zoos and aquariums, will open a new four acre exhibit featuring grizzlies, timber wolves, elk and trumpeter swans in summer 2009. http://www.memphiszoo.org/.
HRH Vineyards & Crown Winery is scheduled to open in Humboldt in spring 2009.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development strives to maintain an up-to-date listing of new events and attractions across the state. For a complete listing, visit http://press.tnvacation.com/media/story-ideas/#2009. Contact Tara Leurs at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a major milestone or information about a new attraction to add to the official “What’s New in 2009” document.
Facts & Trends
The New TIA--U.S. Travel Association
TIA, (Travel Industry of America) has a new name and a clearer focus. TIA has become the U.S. Travel Association following the merging of TIA and the Travel Business Roundtable into one advocacy group. After a year-long brand review, the new name was selected to reflect the breadth and scope of one of America's largest and most important industries, and to best position the association for a bigger voice in Washington.
The merger will enable the industry to speak with one voice, which is so critical during these challenging times. “Travel supports nearly 18 million U.S. jobs that cannot be outsourced and contributes more than $100 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue,” said Roger Dow, TIA’s President and CEO, who will serve in the same capacity for the U.S. Travel Association. “America’s travel community has created an organization that matches the power and scope of America’s travel economy.”
The new association will serve as the leading advocate for increasing travel to and within the United States while continuing to provide its members with the core programs and events associated with TIA in the past. www.ustravel.org
Travel South Announces Partnership with Delta Airlines
Travel South USA has recently announced a strategic alliance with Delta Air Lines as a major sponsor for Travel South Showcase in 2009 and 2010. The southern USA is the #1 regional destination for both domestic and international travelers; and Delta Air Lines offers more service to more destinations in the twelve state region than any other global carrier.
The partnership with Delta opens the door for Travel South USA to issue invitations to select international tour operators to participate in the 2009 Showcase in Kissimmee, Florida, and 2010 Showcase in Birmingham, Alabama. Elite International Buyers will have an unprecedented opportunity to fly Delta Air Lines and visit the Southern United States to experience the region’s famous Southern hospitality. A specialized program has been created exclusively for the I-Buyers featuring presentations by the 12 state tourism offices, selected appointment scheduling, as well as access to all marketplace functions and social networking opportunities
Hosting Elite International Buyers at a southern marketplace is not a new concept, and thanks to the hard work and efforts of three leaders who developed Rhythms of the South in 2002, we are not starting from scratch in organizing this program. The Atlanta CVB, Nashville CVB and New Orleans CVB, who developed the Rhythms of the South Regional International Marketplace, were involved in discussions to expand and reformat their program based on the needs of the partners involved. The ROS regional alliance will be a strategic partner and involved in the upcoming Showcase programs.
This new opportunity to meet pre-qualified international tour operators interested in the southern USA is a marvelous addition to Travel South Showcase. Strategic alliances with leading airline companies are part of many successful tourism programs, including Tennessee’s four major cities.
TACVB Blizzard III
Conference Organizers Prepare for “Weathering the Storm”
Community tourism leaders in Tennessee are making plans to attend TACVB Blizzard III January 22 and 23 at the Hotel Preston in Nashville. The fast paced noon-to-noon series of learning and networking opportunities has proven to be one of the most anticipated personal development events of the year. Last year’s Blizzard was awarded “Best Annual Meeting” by the Tennessee Society of Association Executives.
The 24-hour conference unfolds at 12:30 with “Small Town, Big Dreams,” the opening keynote session, led by Coach Micheal Burt. A former championship coach, Burt is now the “Maximum Motivator” for multiple companies, teaching them how to win in the market. Commissioner Susan Whitaker wraps up the meeting the next day at noon with a “send-off” back to our communities…energized and better equipped to meet the challenges ahead.
Breakout sessions in-between include:
“How to Preserve Your Tourism Budget in Slow Economic Times” – Dr. Steve Morse, economist and director of the UT Tourism Institute at the University of TN/Knoxville. Learn how to communicate to your local officials the importance of tourism in your local economy.
Culinary Tourism – J. Gray Ellis, president of Compass Marketing and executive board member of the International Culinary Tourism Association. Gather valuable information from his six years of work in this field.
“Event Management as the World Watches” – Mike Miller, operations director, Republican National Convention. Hear valuable tips, techniques, and best practices you can adapt for your next convention, fund-raiser, news conference, or special event.
“New Tools for Tourism” – Joseph Logsdon, Touring Publications. Uncover the latest tools for reaching travelers via their cell phone, including Magi7 Mobile Managed Services.
“AgriTourism in Tennessee” – Pamela Bartholomew, agritourism coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Be up-to-date on their new initiatives in this growing field.
“Social Networking” - Audrey J. Williams, Pellissippi State Technical Community College. Explore the aspects of some popular social media and networking sites and examine how you can use them in your personal and professional life.
Are you ready for “Weathering the Storm” presented by Miles Media? Go to the TACVB Web site today for registration, schedule and lodging information. http://tacvb.net/.
Lexington Installs Civil War Trails Marker
On December 18, exactly 146 years after the Battle of Lexington, Mayor Bobby Dyer led the dedication of Lexington's first Tennessee Civil War Trails historical marker. This site was part of Nathan Bedford Forrest's raid through West Tennessee as he evaded defeat time and again for several weeks.
The Battle of Lexington joins 34 other historical markers that are currently in place through the Tennessee Civil War Trails, a program that continues to reach further across the state.
Governor’s Conference ’09
Murfreesboro readies for '09 Governor's Conference on Tourism
Mark your calendars now for the premiere tourism conference of the year, the 2009 Governor's Conference on Tourism, which will be held September 16-18 at the beautiful new Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro.
“Our hosts in Rutherford County, the City of Murfreesboro, and the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center are pulling out all the stops to make sure this year’s conference is one of the best ever,” said John Whisenant, executive director of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable (TTR). “This will be the first time the conference has been held in Murfreesboro, and we are excited about our industry having an opportunity to see this magnificent conference center and all that Rutherford County has to offer.”General information on the conference can be found on the TTR Web site at www.tenntourismroundtable.com. The Web site will be updated regularly as program plans progress and will also be available for on-line conference registration.
The annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism is produced by TTR and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
New Centers Rising
The state is in the process of erecting two new Tennessee Welcome Centers in east Tennessee during 2009. The I-75 Jellico Center is being replaced with a needed facility and a new center will be built on I-16 in Unicoi County. The new log cabin style centers will provide a hospitable atmosphere to its Tennessee visitors.
Vaughn & Melton (V&M) are the architects for both projects while Venture One Construction serves as the contractor for Jellico. The date of substantial completion for Jellico is November 2, 2009 but according to V&M, the project appears to be ahead of schedule.
"The traffic had outgrown our facility at Jellico, so we are very pleased that the new Welcome Center there will be much larger to accommodate the traveling public. I know our Jellico staff is very excited about moving into a new building," said Barry Young, Director of Welcome Centers.
Unicoi County, the newest addition to the TDTD Welcome Centers, has a substantial completion date of October 13. Summers-Taylor of Elizabethton is constructing the Unicoi County Center.
"The new I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Center will be our 14th Tennessee Welcome Center and will serve the traveling public coming into Tennessee on I-26 from North Carolina. It's located in a scenic area and I am sure our visitors will enjoy stopping in at the new Center," added Young.
Employee of the Month
Our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for December 2008 is Arthur Yarbrough, a Building Maintenance Worker I at the I-24 Montgomery County (Clarksville) Welcome Center.
Arthur has worked for the Department of Tourist Development for almost 23 years, and, according to his supervisor, Arthur always comes to work with a positive attitude. "Mr. Yarbrough is a pleasant individual to work with," said Ralph Smith, Clarksville Welcome Center Manager. "He never complains about anything. When we ask him to work overtime he's glad to do it. When we change his work scheduleat the last minute, it doesn't bother him." Arthur says there is a lot to be learned from all of the tourists who visit the Clarksville Welcome Center. "I look at working here at the Center as a positive educational experience," Yarbrough said. "There are so many things we can learn from our visitors. I like to listen to them and learn as much as I can." We are indeed grateful for Arthur's many years of service and his positive attitude on the job. Congratulations to Arthur Yarbrough, our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for December 2008!
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
TN Ranks in Top 10 Animal Attraction States
As Americans plan their vacations for this coming year, Zoo and Aquarium Visitor released their Top 10 Animal Attraction States list. By picking a state with a high density of animal attractions, vacations can be planned to visit the state to see and experience multiple attractions. With the majority of the population living in urban areas, animal attractions provide many Americans with their only connection to nature. Tennessee ranked #8 in the Top Ten Animal Attraction States. Over 200 million people visit animal attractions in the United States every year.
Visitors’ Guide Receives International Award
The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association 2008 Visitors’ Guide has received an international award from the International Association of Professional Brochure Distributors. The NETTA publication was awarded 2nd Place International Winner in the 2008 International Best Brochure Competition. From a possible field of over 19,000 brochures, nominees were narrowed down to a list of 63. These nominated brochures were then evaluated using specific criteria including: headline quality, construction, content and overall appeal.
Smoky Mountain Winterfest
Winterfest Honored as One of Best Holiday Light Displays
Smoky Mountains Winterfest, a winter event with activities in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville, is fourth on a list of the nation's Top 10 Holiday Light shows. The list appears on America's Best & Top 10 Web site. The Web site features more than 50 "Top 10" lists that are based on travel and industry publications' "best of" lists and the input of a panel of experts.
State Capitol To Use Energy-Saving Equipment
Gov. Bredesen issued an executive order requiring Energy Star equipment and appliances in all executive branch state agencies. This includes lighting, heating and even office equipment.
Rail Car Brings Out Jackson's Railroad History
Judge Milton Brown came to town riding on a tractor-trailer bed. The 1948 Pullman railcar, named after a prominent Jackson judge, teacher and railroad man, arrived at Casey Jones Village. The car was given to American Family Radio by Ed Vieth, of Cincinnati, and will be the new home for radio stations WIGH 88.7 and WAMP 88.1.
Loveless Packs Gifts For Soldiers
The Loveless Café is sending gifts that feature some of its Southern treats such as preserves and cookies and Loveless memorabilia to soldiers overseas. Loveless Café employees packed 60 gift boxes. The gifts represent a way to show the troops appreciation for their service.
Pigeon Forge Tennessee Festivals Named To 'Top 20 Events' List
Wilderness Wildlife Week in January and A Mountain Quiltfest in March, have been named to the Southeast Tourism Society's monthly list of "Top 20 Events in the Southeast."
Peabody Ducks Have New Home
The Peabody Hotel has opened the new $200,000 rooftop home of the Peabody Ducks. The “Duck Palace” is a brick and granite structure with a glass viewing panel and metal roof. It has a duck sized swimming fountain with a sculpture of two ducks spitting water and a replica of the Peabody Hotel. The new structure took more than three months to build, replacing the ducks’ former home, which had been on the Peabody Hotel roof for 23 years.
NFL Star Chad Pennington Helps Aquarium with Wheels
Each year, the Tennessee Aquarium provides more than $1 million in free educational programs and services to communities within 150 miles of Chattanooga. These programs are delivered by the Aquarium's education outreach coordinator. Since 1997, the coordinator has almost literally driven the wheels off the Aquarium's original outreach van. To help keep this educational drive alive, NFL quarterback Chad Pennington has passed along a generous grant so the Aquarium could purchase a new outreach vehicle. Due to Pennington's 1st and 10 Foundation, the Tennessee Aquarium was able to purchase a 2009 Saturn hybrid vehicle.
Three New Books on Andrew Jackson!
Three new books on Andrew Jackson have been published and will soon be available in the Hermitage Museum Store. Call or go to www.thehermitage.com and reserve your copy today!
Quote of the Month
"The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur." -Vince Lombardi
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You