Happy New Year and Welcome to 2010!
I don’t think I’m the only one enjoying the opportunity to have a fresh start in a new decade. Maybe it’s a function of getting older, but it just does not seem that long ago when we were welcoming the new millennium…remember all the concern about Y2K? While that threat did not materialize, we certainly faced others that were just as disruptive and difficult. And now, here we are, the ‘aughts’ behind us, moving into decade number two. We’ve had ten very eventful years in Tennessee’s tourism industry, successfully weathering challenges from all sides and moving into a top ten state ranking for tourism in this country. And the best is yet to come!
Tennessee held its own in 2009 even in the face of a tough economy and definitely fared better than some of our competitive states who saw double digit declines in travel in 2009. Tennessee actually experienced an increase in economic impact in 2008 to $14.4 billion. Working smarter and providing some of the best customer service a visitor could experience has enabled the industry’s economic impact to increase year after year, a testament to the quality of Tennessee’s tourism offerings and the professionalism exhibited throughout the industry.
We have enjoyed some great accomplishments this past year, beginning with the Tennessee Sampler in Washington D.C. which featured Dolly Parton, signature ambassador of both Tennessee and the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Our Civil War Trails program continues to grow and has approximately 150 markers installed at sites throughout the state, with 150 more planned for this year. We expanded our Sustainable Tourism Initiative with three webinars and five statewide workshops, and continued to encourage students to consider tourism as a career with our Education Initiative.
:pullquote:We successfully launched one of the most innovative programs in tourism, the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways Program, with super group Rascal Flatts lending their voices and reminding people that “Life is a Highway” – come ride along one of ours! Encompassing all 95 counties, the Trails and Byways Program will showcase 15 driving routes and take people along our Scenic Byways to destination gems throughout the state. Involving several state agencies and many tourism partners, it is a collaboration that will feature significant events and major attractions in our metropolitan cities as well as our small towns and rural regions. The launch of the first trail, Old Tennessee: Settlers to Soldiers Trail and Byway in Williamson & Maury counties has been a huge success.
There were successful conferences including the TACVB Blizzard, the Agritourism Conference and the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which featured the inspiring Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, as well as other industry experts.
This month, I am looking forward to the fourth TACVB Blizzard Professional Development Conference, as well as the 75th birthday celebration of Elvis Presley. We will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville this year. Those are just a few milestones for 2010; a more complete listing can be found on our Web site at http://press.tnvacation.com/media/story-ideas/.
Also plan to participate in the inaugural event of the Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission, which will be held in November to kick-off the five-year commemoration of the Civil War. Tennessee played a pivotal role in that war and its history is relevant to us all.
Tennessee tourism is an amazing industry, with its small town charm and big city attractions. It has fascinating places, but most of all, this industry has people who are truly outstanding. I thoroughly enjoy every minute of my life as a Tennessee Tourism professional and know that I am blessed to be a part of such a remarkable industry.
We have a great deal to be thankful for in 2010. Let’s share it with the world!
Warm wishes from a grateful heart,
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Tennessee Tourism Releases 2010 Vacation Guide
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will officially release the 2010 Tennessee Vacation Guide this month. This year’s guide features editorial spotlights on the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways initiative and an expanded editorial section on Tennessee’s award-winning state parks. Also highlighted in the guide are more than 3,000 listings of attractions found throughout the state.
This year’s Vacation Guide offers a 22-page spread on Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. The comprehensive feature includes a detailed description of points of interest located along the three themed statewide trails—Civil War, Music and Motorcycles— and 15 regional trails including “Old Tennessee”, “Proud Mary” and “Rocky Top” trails. The trails have dramatically increased in popularity on the social networking site, Facebook, as fans of the trails weigh in daily with their ideas and comments. In a continued effort to highlight Tennessee’s social media presence, Facebook fans are featured throughout the Trails editorial section with personal quotes and pictures.
Also included in the 2010 Vacation Guide is an enhanced editorial spread on Tennessee's world-class state parks. This feature includes a two-page article highlighting the parks and the many outdoor recreation opportunities for park visitors. In addition, for the first time, the guide provides a double-page spread with all 53 state parks listed and their locations tracked on an accompanying state map.
Of special note is the unique cover on this year’s guide - a spirited illustration of Tennessee’s most popular attractions and recognizable icons. Highlights include the trademarked Rock City red barn, the Nashville skyline, the famous Memphis sign from Beale Street and special imagery representing Tennessee’s music, Civil War sites, outdoor recreation and scenic beauty.
The glossy magazine-style guide, which features over 200 pages and highlights 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 will be 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
What's New in 2010
The year 2010 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 birthday celebration of Elvis Presley that will take place on January 7-10 at Graceland in Memphis.
Another important 2010 milestone is the opening of Titanic Pigeon Forge, a 30,000-square-foot, ship-shaped structure that rests on 5.69 acres. It will hold 20 galleries with hundreds of artifacts from the Titanic. The galleries are set to open April 2010.
Also notable is the 100th birthday of the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville. The hotel began celebrating in September 2009. The Hermitage is the only five-diamond hotel in Tennessee and boasts the famous Capitol Grille, one of Tennessee’s finest dining experiences.
Below, please find a brief summary of what’s new in 2010. For a complete listing, visit http://press.tnvacation.com/media/story-ideas/.
East Tennessee —
America’s legendary Delta Queen, the last fully operational, overnight passenger steamboat in the country, is now docked in Chattanooga and functioning as a boutique hotel.
A new first-class exhibition opened at the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville entitled “Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee.” The exhibition tells the story of three centuries of life in the region, from the Cherokee to the 1982 World’s Fair. East Tennessee’s Historical Society had been preserving the region’s history for 175 years.
Middle Tennessee —
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2010. To kick off the celebration, Cheekwood will offer a special 50 cents admission charge for the entire month of January. “Nashville Memoir: Photographs by Greg Miller” and “New Direction: Video Artists Explore Southern Identity” will be among various exhibits on display at Cheekwood throughout the year.
Cumberland Caverns will celebrate as 2010 marks 200 years since its discovery. The caverns are open year-round for guided walking tours. The site is also known for Bluegrass Underground, a radio show taped 333 feet below ground level in the Volcano Room.
West Tennessee —
International Rockabilly Hall of Fame Festival in Jackson reaches a 10th anniversary milestone in 2010.
The Memphis Zoo, named the No.1 zoo in America by TripAdvisor, recently added Teton Trek, a four-acre exhibit featuring grizzlies, timber wolves, elk and trumpeter swans.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development strives to maintain an up-to-date listing of new events and attractions across the state. Updates to the list are made throughout the year.
Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways
Southern Living to Feature a Series of Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Advertorials
The department is partnering with Southern Living to produce four advertorials covering the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways. Each advertorial will focus on the trails linking from Nashville, Knoxville, the Great Smoky Mountains, Memphis and Chattanooga. The first advertorial will cover Nashville and will be released in the March 2010 issue of Southern Living. The second advertorial will cover Knoxville and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the April 2010 issue.
Advertorials offer partners the opportunity to participate in co-op advertising at the lowest rate possible for Southern Living. Here are the closing dates for future opportunities:
May 2010 Advertorial
January 7 – Close date for co-op partners
June 2010 Advertorial
February 8 – Close date for co-op partners
Courtney Cofield, advertising representative for Southern Living, will help you with any questions regarding advertising. Please contact Courtney at (404) 888-1857 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional questions, please contact Jennifer Littlejohn, director of marketing, at (615) 532-7853 or Jennifer.Littlejohn@tn.gov.
Civil War Trails Moving into 2010
The new year will begin on a high note as two communities celebrate the unveilings of 18 Civil War Trails markers in their areas.
On Friday, January 8, Chattanooga will announce the installation of 12 historical markers in the Chattanooga area. Many of the sites will be interpreted for the first time. Chattanooga will move into second in number of Civil War markers, as Franklin still leads with fourteen.
Loudon County will unveil its trail of Civil War markers on Tuesday, January 12. The presentation will take place at the First United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, TN. The trail has been completed in the county with six historical markers in Loudon, Philadelphia, Greenback, and Lenoir City.
This program has been made possible by two federal enhancement grants provided by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. By hitting the benchmark of 150 historical markers, we have successfully utilized the funds from the first grant. The second grant allows for another 150 markers giving the state 300 markers total. We hope to accomplish this goal by the start of 2011 as we move into commemorating the Tennessee Sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Tennessee.
For further information, contact Noell Rembert
at email@example.com or 615-532-8077.
Marriott Provides Scholarships
$500,000 Available to Support Diverse Students Pursuing Hospitality Careers
Scholarships are available from the Marriott Scholars Program for the 2010-2011 school year. Applications are being accepted by The Hispanic College Fund (HCF) and UNCF - the United Negro College Fund through Feb. 16, 2010. The scholarships are renewable and eligible students can apply for up to $9,000 annually in tuition support for up to four years.
"We're excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for the Marriott Scholars," said J.W. "Bill" Marriott, Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International, Inc. "My parents were committed to building and investing in the lives of our young people and future leaders. The Marriott Scholars program supports their vision and encourages students to explore the many career options within our industry."
The Marriott Foundation launched the Marriott Scholars program in 2007 in partnership with HCF and UNCF. The program awards grants totaling up to $500,000 annually to students pursuing degrees in the areas of hospitality management, hotel management, culinary and food and beverage.
TACVB Blizzard IV
Looking for the Rainbow
It is not too late to register for Blizzard IV, the fourth annual Tennessee Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (TACVB) Professional Development Conference Presented by Miles Media. For tourism professional concerned about their educational budget, this concise but relaxed 24-hour conclave has acquired a reputation of being high in value and low in cost.
Setting the tone for the conference will be Kelly Swansons keynote address: Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale? Kelly is a nationally recognized author, comedian and motivational speaker. Other learning opportunities include:
Best Practices from CVBs Statewide Crisis Communications Understanding Research Results: Analytics Top 5 Reasons Restaurateurs Dont Support Local CVB Efforts Maximize Partnerships and Leverage Sponsorships Allocating Your Advertising Dollars Discover TN Trails & Byways - The Next Steps New Ways to Show Tourisms Economic Impact an energized sendoff by Commissioner Susan Whitaker and more.
Blizzard IV is from noon on January 21st to 1:00PM on January 22nd at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in Murfreesboro.
Contact Sheila Leggett and ask for the complete program and registration details. 615-254-1233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Agritourism Conference Teams with Horticultural Expo
The 2010 Tennessee Agritourism: Cultivating Farm Revenue Conference is joining the Tennessee Horticultural Expo (T.H.E.) for a three-day super-conference this month in Nashville. T.H.E is a collective meeting of six groups: Tennessee Agritourism Conference, Tennessee Farm Wine Association, Tennessee Fruit and Vegetable Association, Tennessee Flower Growers Association, Tennessee Viticulture and Oenological Society and the Tennessee Farmers Market Association. The end result is more networking opportunities, more educational opportunities and more special events, plus the familiar, high quality program that attendees expect from each organization.
There are two registration options:
1.Agritourism registration includes Expo registration PLUS access to the agritourism conference sessions, a conference notebook, participation in the agritourism bus tour on Saturday, continental breakfast each day, lunch Thursday and the Agritourism Banquet on Thursday evening.
2.Expo only registration is also available.
The joint Agritourism-Horticultural session are January 28-30, 2010 at the Nashville Airport Marriott. Early registration discounts expire before January 5, 2010.
Click here to learn more about the Tennessee Agritourism Conference agenda, tours, registration and lodging.
Complete information about the Tennessee Horticultural Expo is also online at www.tnthe.com.
Facts & Trends
New Study of American Cultural and Heritage Travel Revealed
Recent research reveals that 78% of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural and/or heritage activities while traveling, translating to 118.3 million adults each year. Cultural and heritage travelers spend an average of $994 per trip, contributing more than $192 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
The study is the first to segment cultural and/or heritage travelers, uncovering five different types of cultural and heritage travelers: Passionate, Well-rounded, Aspirational, Self-Guided, and Keeping it Light. Three segments - Passionate, Well-rounded, and Self-guided - were more serious about their travels and said that cultural and heritage activities had a greater impact on their destination choice. Together, these three segments represent 40% of all leisure travelers and contribute nearly $124 billion to the U.S. economy.
Cultural and heritage travelers as a whole are more frequent travelers, reporting an average of 5.01 leisure trips in the past 12 months versus non-cultural/heritage travelers with 3.98 trips.
The study found that cultural and heritage travelers are more likely to participate in culinary activities, such as sampling artisan food and wines, attending food and wine festivals, visiting farmers markets, shopping for gourmet foods, and enjoying unique dining experiences as well as fine dining.
Other cultural and heritage activities identified by travelers include visiting historic sites (66%); attending historical re-enactments (64%); visiting art museums/galleries (54%); attending an art/craft fair or festival (45%); attending a professional dance performance (44%); visiting state/national parks (41%); shopping in museum stores (32%); and exploring urban neighborhoods (30%). The vast majority of these travelers (65%) say that they seek travel experiences where the destination, its buildings and surroundings have retained their historic character.
The study was conducted by Mandala Research for the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism (USCHT) Marketing Council, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Employee of the Month Janna Jones is a Welcome Center Assistant at the Mitchellville Center. Although Janna has only been with our Department for about 18 months, she has quickly developed the reputation of going the extra mile to help our visitors.
One visitor recently called in with these comments: "I came into TN on I-65 and stopped at the Mitchellville Welcome Center. The service that Janna Jones provided was outstanding. I had a friend in the hospital in Nashville and Janna helped me with directions and provided me with the phone number at the hospital so I could call them and work out a place where I could park my motor home. Janna should be recognized for her hard work!" This is not the first positive comment we have received about Janna from our visitors.
"People come to my office all the time and tell me about the outstanding job Janna is doing," said
Sherry Stratton, Mitchellville Welcome Center Manager. "She goes beyond the call of duty and is a hard worker."
Bristol Welcome Center
December 18, 2009
What's Janna's secret? "I'm a people person and enjoying talking to others. Its great to hear people's stories and I knew when I got this job I would be meeting people from all over," Jones said. "This is a team effort here at the Welcome Center. It takes all of us working together as a team for the Welcome Center to operate properly and assist our visitors."
With winter weather expected across most of Tennessee this week, our welcome centers willbecome even more important stops fortravelers.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Nashville Taxi Drivers Improve Customer Service
Taxi Pro, Nashville’s new mandatory driver training program, will train drivers how to become part of Nashville's allure for tourists. Nashville's taxi driver etiquette classes are aimed at teaching drivers what constitutes a polite gesture, acceptable small talk and free tourism advice. The new 21-hour, three-day training by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute and Metro Transportation and Licensing Commission is funded by a Nissan Foundation grant.
Memphis Airport Reopens Runway
Memphis International Airport's east-west runway recently reopened after a nine-month reconstruction project costing about $50 million. The Airport Authority made good on a promise to reopen the runway in time for FedEx's holiday shipping season.
AAA Names Opryland One of Best Places To Experience the Holiday Spirit
The annual Christmas exhibit at Opryland Resort has been named one of AAA’s 2009 12 Favorite Places to Catch the Holiday Spirit. AAA inspectors declared the celebration spectacular and appealing to children and adults. The attraction includes millions of lights hung from trees throughout the grounds, Christmas shows and tens of thousands of poinsettias that decorate the inside of the resort.
Tennessee the 4th-happiest state
A recently released study ranked Tennessee as the fourth-happiest state based on the answers of Tennesseans and what researchers called objective measures of good living. The Centers for Disease Control polled more than 1.3 million people across the country, and only three states — Louisiana, Hawaii and Florida — ranked higher in happiness than the Volunteer State.
Car Museum Rev’s Up for Michael Jackson's Mercedes-Benz
Michael Jackson's car has a new home in the Great Smoky Mountains. The 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL will be displayed with legendary automobiles like the Batmobile, Herbie and the Flintmobile. Hollywood Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg will be displaying the vehicle in the lobby along with one of Jackson's Suits of Light, one of his many costumes he wore performing on stage.
Nashville Shores To Double Its Size
Nashville Shores is in the middle of the largest expansion in the history of the water park. The multimillion-dollar development is scheduled to be finished by opening day 2010. The renovations include a 25,000 square-foot wave pool and an approximate1,000-foot lazy river float ride. The river attraction is the first one to be constructed in Middle Tennessee, and it's the widest in the state.
Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis
Visitors Learn On Their Cell Phone
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Adopts Guide by Cell Phone Audio Tour. "Masterpieces from Museo de Arte de Ponce" is a splendid exhibition of 60 European paintings from the 14th through 19th centuries. The Museum's Guide by Cell audio phone tour lets patrons discover the splendor of European art masters with the simple use of cell phones! The cell phone audio tour offers listeners 20 audio stops to learn about these art masters and the paintings they created.
Clarksville and Greeneville to Get Grants for Landscaped Signage
Gov. Phil Bredesen recently announced that the state will provide a Tennessee Roadscapes Grant to the city’s of Clarksville and Greeneville. “These funds will help make improvements along the roadways that serve as the front door to our communities,” Bredesen said in a news release. “Well-planned landscaping programs create an inviting atmosphere that can boost local economies and improve the quality of life for citizens.”
Alliance for the Cumberlands Welcomes New Executive Director
The Alliance for the Cumberlands has appointed a new Executive Director, Zebulon Turrentine, is a returning Peace Corps volunteer and native of Bell Buckle, Tennessee.
In addition to changing leadership, the AFC office has moved to the campus of Tennessee Technological University, a partnership fostered by the University's President Robert Bell who is also a member of the Alliance's Board of Directors.
The past four years, members of the AFC have unified to initiate eco/heritage tourism projects contributing to the sustainability of human and natural communities on the Cumberland Plateau. One of these projects, the Nature Trail, is a scenic, self-guided tour of some of the best nature viewing opportunities in the region. It is a collaborative project with many partners including Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the National Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Appalachia Regional Commission and the Benwood Foundation.
Quote of the Month
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You