Dear Tourism Partners,
The summer travel season is in full swing and while travel indicators are forecasting shorter trips for vacationers, some of Tennessee’s summer events are experiencing record breaking attendance. This is encouraging news for Tennessee’s tourism industry.
Nashville’s CMA Music Festival saw last year’s all-time attendance record broken at this year’s four day fan fest. More than 52,000 attended daily, an increase of 9 ½ per cent over 2007.
Chattanooga’s popular nine day Riverbend Festival reported 650,000 people turned out to hear such popular performers as ZZ Top, The Black Crowes, Josh Turner and Mercy Me.
Memphis in May reports figures of 350,000 for the three main events, Beale Street Music Fest, Bar-B-Que and Sunset Symphony. Oak Ridge’s award-winning Secret City Festival drew 28,000 in two days, a number equal to the population of the city of Oak Ridge. Lastly, Bonnaroo had more than 70,000 fans descend on Manchester, with tourists from California, Colorado, New York, and New Jersey and most points in between.
Tennessee’s diverse tourism product provides fresh and compelling reasons to travel, positioning the industry for continued growth in the future. My thanks to all of you who work so hard to make this happen year in and year out.
:pullquote:I hope by now all of you have had a chance to see the new 30 second television spot featuring Kix Brooks. We’ve just received word that the commercial was honored with a prestigious Telly Award. The Telly is the premier award given for outstanding local, regional and cable TV commercials and programs. We are looking forward to producing more spots with high-profile personalities and everyday people saying, “That’s my Tennessee story, what’s yours?”
As I reported in last month’s newsletter, the department implemented an aggressive in-state advertising initiative featuring the new television commercial. The spot ran for four weeks in June at prime point levels. The in-state campaign also featured a radio promotion highlighting all-inclusive trip giveaways to all regions of the state. A Tennessee vacation offers memories to last a lifetime for all travelers, those coming from a long distance, or Tennesseans traveling a few hours within the state.
And, this year through the Department’s Education Initiative, we have communicated with more than 12, 000 juniors and seniors from Tennessee high schools who ranked in the top 75th percentile of interest in tourism careers on the Kuder Career Search Interest Assessment. These students were directed to a special section of tnvacation.com to review the careers available in tourism, as well as receiving exposure to the entire site’s offering of places to visit and things to do.
As we approach Independence Day and all its wonderful celebrations of freedom, I am reminded of how blessed we are to live in this marvelous country. I will be giving thanks for this great nation, for my family and friends, for Tennessee and for all of you who continue to make Tennessee one of the greatest tourism destinations in the world.
Enjoy a safe and happy 4th of July!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Staycations are Latest Trend in Travel
The term staycation has very quickly become a popular buzzword, not only in the travel and tourism industry, but also among consumers. This alternative vacation trend, in response to the rising cost of gasoline, was defined by USA Today in a December 2007 article as a “trip taken closer to home but for long 3 or 4 day weekends versus spending weeks away from the house.” Staycation has expanded to include taking time off work to enjoy life at home, including back-yard camping expeditions and romantic escapes to a local hotel.
TDTD’s aggressive response to the high gas prices, which have resulted in the Staycation trend, included an in-state advertising initiative during the month of June that featured four weeks of television at prime point levels. The television campaign highlighted tourism’s new television commercial with Kix Brooks, with supporting radio promotions reminding Tennessee residents of the affordability and variety of attractions the state presents. Additionally, the radio campaign included all-inclusive trip giveaways to the three grand regions of Tennessee.
A Staycation Expo is being hosted by Cool Springs Galleria on July 12-13. The expo is an opportunity for tourism partners to showcase their destination to thousands of middle Tennessee travelers. The event, held on a busy weekend, is supported through various media efforts, including a link to the Cool Springs Galleria Web site, in-mall signage, promotions with media partners, and much more. The ultimate goal of the Staycation Expo is to educate and encourage the consumer to visit the many wonderful Tennessee tourism attractions throughout the state.
:pullquote:Similarly, in May more than 53 tourism partners participated in the “Discover Tennessee” tourism expo at Opry Mills, sponsored by The Nashville Attractions Coalition. Statewide tourism representatives included Graceland, George Dickel Distillery and the Chattanooga CVB. This event was in celebration of the 25th anniversary of National Tourism Week and offered trip giveaways, food sampling and attraction bag stuffers.
Recommended marketing efforts to take advantage of the staycation trend include offering short pre-planned trips targeted to local travelers and featured on partner Web sites. Local promotions to in-state travelers can encourage vacation outings and boost local traveler response.
Tennessee has an advantage with the staycation trend. According to the Travel Industry of America, 39 percent of travelers to Tennessee are Tennesseans. Tennessee is also within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, offering an additional advantage to short-distance vacationers.
SHOWCASE: NETTA Celebrates Inclusion in National Geographic Appalachian Map
The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association celebrated their inclusion in the National Geographic Appalachia Driving Tours Map during an unveiling ceremony at their annual meeting. The map, commissioned by the Appalachian Regional Commission, features 28 unique driving trails of the Appalachian Region that lead to a broad array of historical, archaeological, cultural, and scenic sites.
Appalachia Driving Tours showcases portions of NETTA’s Tales & Trails, America’s First Frontier. The tour highlights a region that is rich in history, culture, outdoor adventure, lush mountains and more. A new, more complete interactive version of the tour is now available on NETTA’s Web site.
:pullquote:Supplemented with colorful photos, descriptive text, and more detailed information for travelers, the map was distributed to 865,000 subscribers in the April 2008 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine as well as to other target audiences in the region.
A second East Tennessee driving tour, Furs to Factories, was also selected by ARC for the project. Created by Tennessee Overhill in Etowah, Furs to Factories illustrates how Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation, European fur traders, farmers, loggers, copper miners, textile workers, and dam builders shaped the Southeast TN land and its way of life.
As an added bonus, Tennessee received recognition from three additional tours associated with neighboring states: The Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, The Southern Highroads Trail, and Lookout Mountain Parkway.
Readers of Appalachia Driving Tours are encouraged to “Visit Appalachia” through a newly-developed online companion piece at www.visitappalachia.com. This interactive version of the 28 tours includes a downloadable PDF of the map, Google map features to help travelers plan their next driving vacation to Appalachia, and links to the 13 Appalachian State tourism offices.
2008 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism
Barbara Glanz to Open Conference
True to the theme of “Reaching Higher Ground”, the 2008 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism will kick off with an inspiring keynote address by internationally acclaimed speaker and author Barbara Glanz, who will challenge and equip attendees to generate creative thinking, raise morale, reduce turnover, increase productivity, and have more fun at work!
Current research shows that only about 12 to 15% of American workers are giving their very best to their jobs. Eight to ten percent are burned out with no life. That leaves 75 -- 80% of our workforce who are just doing enough to get by. Imagine what could happen to the productivity in your workplace if you could inspire those workers to do their very best!
:pullquote:In her presentation, “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™ -- Creating Workplaces of Passion, Purpose and Productivity”, Barbara will provide dozens of real-life, creative, low cost, and immediately applicable ideas you can implement in your own workplace. She will spread her "contagious enthusiasm" to maximize personal productivity and organizational success, and each participant will leave with a powerful understanding of the difference he or she can make every single day!
Barbara Glanz, CSP, is one of fewer than 550 Certified Speaking Professionals and has been chosen by Meeting Planners International as one of only 34 Platinum Speakers worldwide. The author of eleven bestselling books, Barbara holds a Master's Degree in Adult Education and is the former manager of Training and director of Quality in Training for Kaset International. She has presented on seven continents and in all 50 states and has been featured on television, radio, and in print nationwide.
The annual Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism is produced in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development by the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable.
Information on the Governor’s Conference, including conference schedule, programming, lodging, and registration can be found at the TTR Web site.
Franklin’s Charge Makes Purchase
Franklin's Charge, a coalition of Middle Tennessee organizations and individuals dedicated to the preservation of historic open space, has purchased a one-acre site in Franklin across the street from the historic Carter House and adjacent to the Carter Cotton Gin Company.
"This property, plus the 108-acre Eastern Flank purchased in the fall of 2007 with city and private funds, are pieces of the puzzle that will eventually make up the battlefield park with replicated earthworks, cotton gin and other elements of 1864," said Ernie Bacon, president of Franklin's Charge. Jim Lighthizer, CEO of the Civil War Preservation Trust, has called Franklin's Charge fundraising achievements "the largest and most successful public/private partnership in the history of Civil War battlefield preservation efforts." The land acquisition kicked off a weekend Civil War symposium presented by Franklin's Charge and other groups.
This was the second year for the symposium and was a great success, selling all available tickets. The symposium covered the theme of “Fighting for the Heartland”, complete with special lectures, tours, and re-enactments. Mitch Bowman was a featured luncheon speaker, where the outlined the new Tennessee Civil War Trails program. Other highlights included a ranger-led tour of Stones River National Battlefield along with a dinner-on-the-ground at historic Carnton Plantation.
Civil War Heritage
State Heritage Areas Program Invites Tourism Partners to Public Meetings
In July, the Department of Environment and Conservation will be holding statewide public meetings to share information on the possibility of the State Heritage Areas program in the future. During the conversations about the potential of a state heritage areas program, Dr. Carroll Van West, the director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, will be presenting part of the program. He will be available to answer questions about the National Heritage Area, its support for the Tennessee Civil War Trails program, and how communities can take advantage of these programs today. Lee Curtis will also be on hand from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and will have information on the Civil War Trails program and how your sites can participate! Make plans now to attend these important meetings in your area.
The schedule of meetings:
Monday, July 7, 11 a.m.
Monday, July 7, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, July 8, 11 a.m.
Tuesday, July 8, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, July 9, 11 a.m.
Wednesday, July 9, 6 p.m.
Friday, July 11, 11 a.m.
Friday, July 11, 6 p.m.
Facts & Trends
Beat Rising Gas Prices with a Tennessee Vacation
This summer, it is time for Tennesseans to explore their own backyard, and with the three grand regions of Tennessee, it is like traveling to three distinctively unique destinations. Tennessee is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, and according to www.gasbuddy.com, Tennessee is ranked in the top 10 for the lowest gas prices nationwide. This combination makes Tennessee appealing to the almost 50 million visitors annually.
Tennessee state parks are ranked the best in the nation. Part of that honor includes meeting the needs and providing affordability and value to in-state visitors. This summer, there are several programs to help make traveling more affordable. “Less than One Tank Trips” offers various events and festivals where visitors may experience the natural, cultural and historical uniqueness of a nearby state park. The “State Parks’ Gas Price Discount” offers a web-based coupon, and the “Stay and Play” special offers a one-night stay and 18-hole round of golf for $39.50 per person until June 30.
National Civil Rights Museum,
National Civil Rights Museum Plans for Growth
The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis held a day-long strategic session to plan for continued growth. The Museum captured ideas to further broaden its reach and develop educational objectives in Memphis and beyond. Plans were also discussed to identify the role of the Museum in the community, both locally and globally.
Tourism Department Taps Tennessee Students
The Tourism Department continues its activities with our Education Initiative focusing on careers in tourism. The department congratulated 12,000 juniors and seniors from Tennessee high schools by sending them an email. These students indicated an interest in the tourism industry and ranked in the 75th percentile or higher on the Kuder Career Search Interest Assessment Report. Students were invited to visit the careers section of the Tennessee Tourism Web site to find out about the many careers in the tourism industry as well as identifying programs at the various colleges and universities and funding sources.
Civil War Trails – Up and Running
The Civil War Trails program, launched by the Department of Tourist Development in January of this year, is off to a great start. There are several communities that have committed to the project that will be popular attractions for the entire state.
To date, the department has received 28 applications, ranging from northeast Tennessee to middle Tennessee, with many more communities making plans to participate. The department’s goal is to have the first marker installed by mid-September and 35 installed by the end of October.
For more information on getting your site on the Civil War Trail, please contact Noell Rembert, Civil War Heritage Coordinator, at Noell.Rembert@state.tn.us or 615-532-8077.
Email Marketing Opportunities
Paramore Redd has email opportunities available to help destinations and attractions reach specific audiences. For information, contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-324-8997.
Quote of the Month
"I call for effort, courage, sacrifice, devotion. Granting the love of freedom, all of these are possible. And the love of freedom is still fierce and steady in the nation today."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1940
Welcome Center Employee of the Month
Our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for June is Rickey Smith, a Building Maintenance Worker I at the Mitchellville Welcome Center. Although Rickey has only been with our Department since August 2007, he has made a great impact at the Center, bringing all employees together to work as at team. Rickey takes pride in his work, and is always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. Team work is essential to the success of the Welcome Center. "We have a lot of good people that care about the Center and the visitors," said Rickey. "Everyone takes pride in their work."
"Rickey has improved many things around the Center to help give it a family friendly atmosphere," said Welcome Center Manager Sherry Prochaska. "He is always willing to do what is asked of him and he never complains about anything."
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Governor Names Good Stewards
The 2008 Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards ceremony hands out awards across the state for excellence in stewardship sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
Collierville received the Excellence in Greenways and Trails award for Pererson Lake Nature Area (11 parks and 300 acres). The Tennessee Aquarium received the Excellence in Aquatic Resource Preservation award. The Tennessee Aquarium Research Institute is the conservation and research arm of the Aquarium. Metro Nashville Parks "Green" Nature Centers received the Excellence in Building Green award. And, Bell Buckle Park received the Excellence in Parks and Recreation award.
McDonald's Tray-liner, Paris
Do You Want Fries With That…
Thanks to the smart thinking of Bob Kenworthy and Shelli Pierce, Paris TN McDonald's is promoting local summer events on their tray-liners. Visitors and locals will know all summer what’s happening in Henry County!
Ghosts Voted One of Top 5
Appalachian GhostWalks and Ghost Tours was voted one of the top five ghost tour companies in America by Haunted America in New Orleans, Louisiana. Each of their historical tours offers a small piece of a much larger puzzle as your very own "Certified Ghost Hunter Guide" and Historian weaves a chilly tale of the region's vast cultural heritage and history coupled with true, spine-tingling ghost stories.
Cheekwood Botanical Garden
Cheekwood Wins Awards
Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art was recently selected as a winner of the 2008 Museum Publications Design Competition by the American Association of Museums (AAM). The annual AAM Museum Publications Design Competition acknowledges excellence in the graphic design of museum publications. Cheekwood also won three Silver ADDY awards in the Nashville competition. The ADDY Awards is the world's largest advertising competition with over 50,000 entries annually. The Tennessee Association of Museums also recognized Cheekwood recently with four Awards of Excellence for: Tales and Tunes (Programming), Music City Picks (Temporary Exhibition), The Ewers-Tyne Collection of Porcelain (Catalogue), Once Upon a Garden (Publication – Posters), and a Commendation for our Quarterly newsletter, Inspire.
Burgess Falls Park Adds Land
Burgess Falls has added more than 45 acres to the state park's current property. The new land is situated near the final and largest of the three waterfalls in the park, on the opposite shore from where the walking trail is located. The new land will be added to the approximately 350 acres of land the state park all ready owns. As of now, plans are to leave the land in its natural state. The new property consists of mostly woodlands and is home to a variety of plant and animal life.
An American Veteran
Wounded Vets Stay Free
A new organization is giving wounded veterans much needed help with vacation getaways. Several locations on the list are in East Tennessee. The non-profit organization Vacations for Veterans gives vets and their families a week of free lodging in a vacation home or cabin. In Tennessee, a waterfront home on Norris Lake, along with cabins and chalets and timeshares in Sevierville and Gatlinburg are on the list.
Old Country Store Event Receives Top 20 Honor
The Old Country Store announced that the annual Christmas Eve Breakfast has been selected as a Top 20 Event for Fall 2008 by the Southeast Tourism Society. The Christmas Eve Breakfast will celebrate 24 years this year. Each year on December 24th, the Old Country Store southern breakfast buffet is served from 6:30 am to 2 pm for an extra special price. Attendance each year is estimated at 2,000 people for what has become an annual tradition among West Tennessee area families. The past several years the Old Country store has partnered with a charity organization to highlight their work.
The Dyer County Historical Society is having conversations with residents in the area as a part of Humanities Tennessee's "The People of Tennessee -- Stories of Land and Place" project. The goal of the oral-history project is to collect interviews with people who were raised in or near the bottomland of Dyer County. Humanities Tennessee is supporting the oral-history project in six Tennessee counties through grants to organizations within each community. "The People of Tennessee -- Stories of Land and Place" is an 18-month project, with volunteers collecting oral interviews that capture much of the historic past in each community.
Smokies Launch Global Climate Initiative
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has launched a new initiative aimed at educating visitors about measures that they can take, in the Park and at home, to reduce contributions to global warming. Guests to the Park's visitor centers and other facilities will find information posted with suggestions on how they can minimize their carbon footprint during their visit as well as when they return home. Click here for more information.
ETSU Wins National Award
East Tennessee State University won a bronze award in the 23rd Annual Admissions Advertising Awards, a national competition sponsored by Admissions Marketing Report, a monthly publication known as “The National Newspaper of Admissions Marketing.” The university claimed the award for its ETSU and General Shale Brick Natural History Museum and Visitor Center at the Gray Fossil Site brochure.
American Museum of Science and Energy
Manhattan Project Photographer Honored
Oak Ridge resident and Manhattan Project photographer, James Edward Westcott has been honored with a U.S. Department of Energy Secretary's Appreciation Award. Westcott received the award at the American Museum of Science and Energy for his years of service as a photographer with the Atomic Energy Commission. He also received a plaque from the Energy Department's Oak Ridge Office and a key to the city. Westcott was selected as the government's official photographer for Oak Ridge's top-secret program to develop atomic weapons during World War II.
RC and Moon Pie Festival King,
Lane Daviesand Queen, Phyllis Qualls-Brooks
RC and Moon Pie Festival an Annual Treat
The 14th Annual RC and Moon Pie Festival was held June 21, 2008 in Bell Buckle, Tenn., with an estimated attendance of over 25,000. Dr. Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, assistant commissioner of community and industry relations for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, was the 2008 Queen, and Lane Davies, an actor and director of the inaugural Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, was the 2008 King.
"It was a wonderful experience to be a part of an event built around this Southern delicacy," said Qualls-Brooks. "The community of Bell Buckle really set the example of what hard work can do to execute a successful event that benefits the community."
Responsibilities of the King and Queen included knighting the subjects who were in charge of cutting the world's largest Moon Pie and overseeing the day-long activities.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You