Dear Tourism Partners,
Our summer season has begun and with it the arrival of travelers from all over the world, excited to visit Tennessee and experience our world-class festivals and events, great outdoors and summer fun for the entire family.
Our lakes and rivers are ready for fishing, boating, swimming and skiing. Tennessee’s State and National Parks are open and ready for campers, hikers, bikers, as well as those who just need to relax and take a deep breath of Tennessee.
Of Tennessee’s more than 800 annual festivals and outdoor events, 200 take place during the summertime. These special events showcase our rich history and culture, outstanding music and southern cuisine, especially Tennessee’s award-winning barbeque.
As I’m sure you are aware, this year has been a challenge for many sectors of the economy; the tourism industry is certainly no exception. With travel indicators forecasting shorter trips for vacationers, we have quickly re-assessed our June advertising initiative to an aggressive in-state campaign, including 3-4 weeks of television at prime point levels and a radio promotion featuring all-inclusive trip giveaways to all regions of the state.
The #1 single state of origin for Tennessee visitors according to TIA’s latest travel barometer is Tennessee itself, with more than 39% of all travelers in Tennessee being Tennesseans. This is the perfect time to encourage traveling in our own backyard. Let’s remind our Tennessee friends and neighbors to experience what almost 50 million visitors from around the world come to Tennessee to enjoy. Take a short trip just down the road to some of the greatest places on earth - right here in Tennessee.
I am also reminded that Tennessee is within a day’s drive of nearly 2/3rds of the U.S. population. Our research tells us that people in other states perceive Tennessee as an affordable and “close by” destination – that’s a strong message for all of us to be sending to those pondering their vacation choices. We know that once they arrive, these visitors will have a memorable time that they will want to repeat in future years.
I’m grateful for all that Tennessee has to offer its citizens as well as its visitors – so let the summer fun begin!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Elvis Presley Enterprises Summit Rocks
Elvis Presley Enterprises, a company that continues to tell the Elvis Presley story, opened its doors for a special look inside where all the magic happens. For three days in April 2008 EPE held a Worldwide Summit. This international event was exclusive for business partners including, licensees, music publishers, marketing partners, and Graceland vendors. Over 100 companies were represented with more than 250 attendees.
The Summit kicked off with an amazing evening welcome party, where guests mingled, enjoyed an array of food & beverages, “after-dark” tours of the mansion and new exhibits. Guests also had an opportunity to participate in the Sirius Radio trivia contest --- the winner won a 30 minute spot as that night’s special “on –air” DJ.
As one of the first speakers, Priscilla Presley provided key remarks regarding EPE and its future. She also expressed her gratitude to everyone for making the long journey to Memphis. She was delighted to know that EPE partners are excited to be more involved with and learn more about EPE and Graceland.
Summit presentations were made by Cherry Lane Music Publishing, Sirius Satellite Radio, MediaBox, CKX, Muhammad Ali Enterprises, and several current licensees including, Joe Petruccio an EPE artist discovered by EPE, and Jim Lentz of American Royal Arts. The Summit also provided additional information and detailed presentations from every EPE department. Carol Butler, VP of Worldwide Licensing, says of the event, “We wanted our business partners to learn that EPE is one big team. As a partner we have many in-house opportunities that involve each department, from Merchandise and Licensing to Marketing and Archives. We are a team of professionals and we strive to help them utilize our available assets as added partner benefits”.
EPE’s goal was to bring partners together, inform them of the new branding campaign, discuss future business plans, and brain storm about how best to include partners in future growth. EPE also introduced the new CKx organizational structure and explained how a big part of the partnership with CKx was to combine efforts in protecting EPE’s brand, the trademarks, Elvis’s name, image, likeness, and Graceland. Team members from CKx legal were in attendance to discuss and explain how infringement law works to benefit all partners.
Representatives from multiple countries became interactive with the speakers during each end-of-day Q&A session. They also had an opportunity to give EPE their ideas and suggestions at the roundtable segment, where attendees had one-on-one opportunities to ask questions and get more information direct from EPE representatives. These two portions of the Summit were encouraging and helped develop stronger relationships between EPE and other partners.
This year’s event was such a success, EPE is now in the planning stages to host another Summit within the next few years. This is only the 2nd time EPE has hosted the Worldwide Summit. The last event was held in 1996.
Regional Tourism Achievers Honored
The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association (NETTA) presented its 11th Annual Pinnacle Awards at a recent banquet in Kingsport. The awards pay tribute to individuals, groups, businesses and organizations that significantly contribute to the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia region’s economy through tourism promotion and development.
Claudia Moody, NETTA CEO, said, “This program gives us an opportunity to pay tribute for exemplary performance; refine our tourism product; communicate and position the tourism industry as an economic development engine; and build community pride and regional camaraderie."
Awarded entries were produced and published between January 1 and December 31, 2007. Categories included Special Events, Special Projects, Advertising/Promotions in Print and Multi-Media and Public Relations. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was once again the awards title sponsor.
2009 Tennessee Vacation Guide in the Works
Miles Media Group, publisher of the Official Tennessee Vacation Guide, has its staff traveling the state selling the 2009 guide.
The Vacation Guide is the publication visitors use to make their vacation decisions. By purchasing an ad you can put the power of Tennessee's multi-million dollar media campaign to work for you. You can also reach visitors when they are choosing destinations, selecting accommodations, and deciding what to do and where to shop. The Vacation Guide is Tennessee's "exclusive" consumer and travel/trade fulfillment piece that delivers results.
To place your ad in the upcoming publication, contact Mary Steadman for the Upper Cumberland and East Tennessee regions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-956-4330 or Abbie Gristy for Middle and West Tennessee at email@example.com or 731-298-1003.
The Tennessee Tourism industry will be reaching new heights September 24-26 as it gathers for the 2008 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism in the highly popular Smoky Mountains destination city of Gatlinburg!
“We are genuinely excited about this year’s conference,” said Ray Ogle, chairman of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, which produces the conference in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “With our theme this year of Tennessee Tourism: Reaching Higher Ground, our goal is to plan a conference that will challenge and equip our industry and each individual in attendance to grow and achieve greater success, both personally and professionally.”
“And of course, we work hard each year to take the conference itself to a higher level,” Ogle continued. “The Department of Tourist Development, the City of Gatlinburg, and TTR are all working hard to make sure that this year's conference will be one of the most informative, innovative, and valuable conferences ever!”
“The Governor’s Conference is always a highlight of the year for me personally and for the Tennessee tourism industry. This year is especially exciting as we gather in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as they lead-up to 2009’s 75th anniversary celebration,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker. “The conference is an important time for us to assess the economic environment and discover the latest ideas in successful tourism promotion.”
The three-day conference will open Wednesday afternoon, September 24, with the annual Durell Roberts Golf Tournament and the return of the highly popular “Tourism Marketing Super Seminar”. Introduced at last year’s Governor’s Conference, the Super Seminar is a three-hour special educational seminar jam-packed with the latest in tourism marketing ideas. It's like adding another half-day of professional development to the Conference -- and because it's included in the Governor's Conference registration, there's no additional cost! Wednesday's events will also include the opening reception and Gatlinburg dine-around.
Thursday, September 25, will begin with the opening breakfast and keynote address, followed by a day full of outstanding educational seminars featuring the hottest tourism topics presented by the best speakers and experts available. The educational seminars will follow the format also introduced at last year’s conference that has most presentations repeated at least once, allowing conference attendees to take the greatest advantage of the educational programs being offered.
In addition, the Tennessee Tourism Tradeshow will be open all day on Thursday, allowing attendees to meet one-on-one with industry suppliers. Returning to the Tradeshow floor this year will be the annual TTR Silent Auction and the “Great Ideas! Fair”, where the state’s tourism-related business and organizations share programs and projects that have worked great for them. Ideas will be judged while on display and the best will be presented with the “Spotlight Awards” at the Tourism & Hospitality Awards Dinner on Thursday night, September 25.
Friday’s events begin with breakfast featuring the State of the Industry Address and Department of Tourist Development presentation by Commissioner Susan Whitaker. After breakfast, ancillary meetings of the state’s industry associations will take place before the Governor’s Luncheon, featuring a presentation by the Hon. Phil Bredesen (invited.) The Governor’s Luncheon will also feature the graduation of the Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional (CTTP) Class of 2008.
Information on the Governor’s Conference, including schedule and program information, conference hotels, and conference registration can be found on the TTR Web site at www.tenntourismroundtable.com or by calling the TTR office at (615) 734-9380.
Blount County Recognized as Preserve America Community
John L. Nau III , chairman, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, addressed the importance of preservation and the Preserve America program during a luncheon address at the Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit, April 28, 2008 in Knoxville, Tenn. Blount County received recognition as the first Tennessee County to receive the Preserve America designation.In June 2007, through the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau, Blount County completed a rigorous application process for the Preserve America designation. In August 2007, First Lady Laura Bush, honorary chair of the Preserve America initiative, designated Blount County a Preserve America Community.
The Preserve America initiative recognizes communities across the nation for protecting and celebrating their heritage, using their historic assets for economic development and community revitalization, and encouraging people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs. Since the program began, Mrs. Bush has designated more than 500 communities (including nine neighborhoods) as Preserve America Communities in all 50 states and one U.S. territory.
The benefits of the Preserve America designation include White House recognition, the eligibility to apply for Preserve America grants, a certificate of recognition, a Preserve America Community road sign, authorization to use the Preserve America logo, listing in a Web-based Preserve America Community directory, inclusion in national and regional press releases, official notification of the designation to state tourism offices and visitors bureaus, and enhanced community visibility and pride. There are four quarterly deadlines annually, March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1, to apply for the Preserve America designation.
Tennessee has seven Preserve America communities, but Blount County is the only county in Tennessee to receive the honorable designation. Tennessee’s Preserve America Communities are Blount County, Columbia, Franklin, Jonesborough, Oak Ridge, Rugby, The District Neighborhood in Nashville and the Victorian Village in Memphis.
Facts & Trends
Tennessee’s tourism partners celebrated the 25th annual National Tourism Week with entertainment, grand openings and major milestones. From welcome centers, to malls and historic attractions, visitors were greeted with smiling faces and helpful information.
All 13 of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s welcome centers used the week as an opportunity to connect with travelers, while providing promotional information, refreshments and product giveaways pertaining to local attractions or communities. Special appearances by mascots and interpreters dressed in period attire, made the experience even more memorable.
The Nashville Attractions Coalition produced the “Discover Tennessee” tourism expo at Opry Mills, which included representatives from more than 50 cities and attractions. Highlights included vacation giveaways and live entertainment, like Grand Ole Opry star Stu Phillips, Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys of Sumner County, and performers from Jukebox Junction Theater in Chattanooga.
Dickson County Tourism Officials smile brightly
as they promote the many attractions and activities
in Dickson County.
“This was our first attempt at this event,” said Keith Wright, president of the Nashville Attractions Coalition. “We will definitely produce this event again in 2009.”
The Chattanooga Area Convention & Visitors Bureau celebrated tourism week with the opening of their new Tourist Information Center & Guest Services kiosk at Hamilton Place Mall. Inside guests found information specialists, plasma screens displaying consumer videos and commercials, brochure slots, and a touch-screen computer with exclusive access to the CVB’s tourism Web site, chattanoogafun.com.
Tourism week gave Greeneville the opportunity to celebrate a major historical milestone – the 200th birthday of President Andrew Johnson. The 200th visitor to the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site during the week was presented with a gift basket by the Tourism Department of the Greene County Partnership.
The Peabody and Graceland also represent the historical side of Tennessee tourism. In celebration of National Tourism Week, the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau asked the Peabody Ducks to execute another famous red carpet march. This time, the ducks waddled to the front door of Graceland. The marching ducks have been a part of the Peabody Hotel since 1940, and the Peabody and Graceland are both on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Events like this showcase how important tourism is in Tennessee and the strength of our industry’s partnerships,” said Kristi Driver, sales manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
These and other activities by Tennessee tourism partners sent a clear and inviting message – “In Tennessee, the Stage is Set for You!”
Filming in Tennessee
Did you know that Black Snake Moan, Walk the Line, Hustle & Flow, Cast Away and The Green Mile were all filmed in Tennessee?
From major filmmakers to budget documentaries, hundreds of films have been created right in our backyard. Producers and directors choose Tennessee not only for our scenic beauty, but also for the exceptional services and skills provided by the Tennessee, Film, Entertainment and Music Commission.
The TFEMC is an information resource center for film and music industry professionals. They work diligently to market Tennessee as a location for film and video projects. They understand the demands of production and the need for accessible information.
The TFEMC services are not only available for box office hits, but also for our Tennessee tourism partners. Utilizing this service helps to promote Tennessee and keeps the production dollars in state.
On the TFEMC Web site, www.film.tennessee.gov, visitors will find information on locations, incentives, permits/contracts and a list of production companies in Tennessee.
For additional information, please contact the TFEMC at (877) 818-FILM.
Media Coverage of Sustainable Tourism Conference Expansive
Governor Phil Bredesen, Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, and other high-profile industry leaders at the Sustainable Tourism Summit in Knoxville drew significant media response resulting in impressive newspaper, television and internet coverage. Associated Press as well as all four major papers in Tennessee ran the story, with the Knoxville News Sentinel taking the lead featuring strong pre and post-event stories.
To date, print media impressions are 1.2 million. Total media equivalency for print is over $100,000.
In addition, television coverage saturated the Knoxville market with prime news stories on WATE and WBIR. Radio highlights include WUOT in Knoxville and WPRN in Nashville.
The Sustainable Tourism Summit was held at the Knoxville Convention Center April 28-29.
Quote of the Month
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men [women] and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad or, The New Pilgrims Progress. 1869.
Frankin Showcases Civil War Sites
Franklin tourism and heritage officials hosted Mitch Bowman, Executive Director of the Civil War Trails Program, and Joe Brent, Historic Preservation and Civil War Trails in Franklin to tour potential sites for the upcoming Tennessee Civil War Trails markers.
Mary Pearce, Executive Director of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County; Deborah Warnick, Heritage Tourism Manager; and Shanon Peterson Wasielewski, City of Franklin Historic Preservation Officer, were a part of the team for Bowman’s first tour of the sites associated with the Battle of Franklin. “He was very impressed with the quantity and quality of sites, which made the Williamson County delegation very proud,” said Wasielewski. Stops on the tour included Winstead Hill, Carnton Plantation, the Carter House and Fort Granger which will be included in the Hood's Campaign Trail. By the end of the day, the selections were made with plans for more to come!
Warnick said, “The Department of Tourism has given those of us with civil war sites an incredible opportunity with the Civil War Trails program. We look forward to the increased visitation and enhanced visitor experience the program will bring to Franklin, Williamson County and Tennessee.”
Bowman will be speaking at the upcoming Civil War Symposium "Fighting for the Middle Tennessee Heartland" June 19 - 21, 2008 in Franklin, TN. This symposium will be presented by Franklin's Charge, Inc. in cooperation with several other related organizations. For more information on this event, call Franklin's Charge at 615-595-0636 or visit the website at www.franklinscharge.com
The Civil War Trails program is a multi-state initiative that identifies, interprets and creates driving tours of both the great campaigns and the lesser known Civil War sites. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development was awarded a federal enhancement grant which is an 80/20 match through the Tennessee Department of Transportation to be a part of this very successful and nationally recognized program.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW YOUR COMMUNITY CAN GET ON THE CIVIL WAR TRAILS PROGRAM - contact Noell Rembert, Civil War Heritage Coordinator at 615-532-8077 or email Noell at firstname.lastname@example.org You may also download the Civil War Trails information on the department's website at www.tnvacation.com/industry/
Marilyn Steadman, a Welcome Center assistant at the I-81 Sullivan County (Bristol) Welcome Center, is the Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for May 2008.
Cindy Dupree, Communications Director for the Department of Tourist Development, recently received this correspondence from a tourist:
Good morning, Ms Dupree. ...just a moment to recognize a special person. Traveling to the "Tail of the Dragon" on Thursday evening, April 17th a brief stop to a Tennessee Welcome Center (I-81, westbound, east of Knoxville) to find lodging. As I stood at the counter looking through the available pamphlets, an attendant, Marilyn, asked if she could help me. I told her of my needs. She immediately grabbed a few "coupon" booklets. ...and voila, she not only found a lodging facility, but she made a phone call to confirm the availability of the room...lodging as Marilyn "guaranteed." Ms Dupree, Marilyn certainly represented Tennessee as an ambassador of hospitality. I appreciate not only her time spent to accommodate my needs, but also the warmth and kindness she expressed while doing so. Please convey my thanks to Marilyn for her "one more step" to see that this visitor was taken care of. (We are) looking forward to another venture in Tennessee.
Although Marilyn has been with our Department for only 18 months, she has already made an impact at the Bristol Welcome Center. She received the "most reservations" award last year for her assistance of helping visitors book rooms throughout the state.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation Named as One of “Best Employers in Tennessee”
The Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation has been named as one of the “Best Employers in Tennessee” for small to medium companies by Business TN Magazine. The KTSC ranked eighth over all other companies in the state. According to Business TN Magazine, the “Best Employers” program is designed to honor the companies in Tennessee that show a dedication to employee growth, development and quality of life.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio 2008 Law Enforcement
Officer Of The Year
20th Annual Buford Pusser Festival Highlights Tourism Week
Thousands attended the annual festival in honor of one of Tennessee’s great legends, Sheriff Buford Pusser. Law enforcement officers from around the state and throughout the nation were in attendance to further recognize an icon in law enforcement. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona received the Officer of the Year award and the Hometowm Hero award went to Martha Leitschuh. Tennessee Trooper Calvin Jenks who was killed in the line of duty, was named for the Memorial Award. Daughter of Sheriff Pusser, Dwana Pusser, her family, members of the Pusser Foundation and other community partners continue to work tirelessly to make this event both an honorable occasion and one filled with fun and entertainment.
Johnson City Railroad Station and Depot Make National Historic Register
The Tennessee Historical Commission is adding The Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railroad Station to the National Register of Historical Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. The rail station and depot is one of seven Tennessee additions.
Humboldt Joins Quilt Trail
The story of quilts is being painted onto Gibson County's scenery. Chamber of Commerce board member, Sharon Herndon, based the quilt trail project on similar efforts in nearby states. From one brightly painted pattern placed on a barn, the idea caught on. An estimated 1,500 quilt-pattern signs hang on buildings from Maryland to Texas, showcasing the unique characteristics of each region and attracting sightseers and tourism revenue.
Tourists view the Smoky Mountains
Southern Living Gives Top 10 Memorial Day Travel Destinations
The Southern Living editors give the Top 10 destinations, along with their top-rated picks on where to eat, stay, and play. The number 4 pick is Gatlinburg, TN. A terrific getaway, a place where the air is clear, the folks are friendly, and a weekend trip won't cost you your firstborn. Point your car toward East Tennessee, where Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Dollywood await your arrival.
Towne Center at Soulsville Will Brighten South Memphis
Renderings of the Towne Center at Soulsville show a beautiful multi-use facility. The new development will include the Williams Soulsville Apple Market grocery store, a post office, food court, an environmental court area and other businesses. Towne Center sits across from Soulsville's Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Stax Music Academy.
Motorcoach companies celebrate in Pigeon Forge
Three motorcoach tour companies have chosen Pigeon Forge as the destination to celebrate a landmark birthday. Fullington Auto Bus Company, of Pennsylvania, brought over 400 people to celebrate their 100th birthday, America Charters, LTD celebrated 70 years of business and brought 600 people to Pigeon Forge, and Abbott Trailways celebrated their 80th birthday with 631 people on 15 motorcoaches.
“Motorcoach tours are of huge significance to the local tourism industry,” said Joy McNealy of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “Pigeon Forge is known for its appeal to groups and for everyone’s willingness here to work with tour companies. It’s the ultimate win-win situation.”
Recent research by George Washington University for the American Bus Association showed that a one-day motorcoach group leaves from $2,536 to $4,563 in a destination’s economy. If the group stays overnight, it leaves from $5,094 to $11,264.
Oaklands Historic House
Free Day Kicks off Tourism Season
Free Day in May was sponsored by the Rutherford County Convention and Visitors Bureau to kick off tourism season. It is a great opportunity to become a tourist in your own backyard and enjoy some local attractions at a price everyone can enjoy. During National Tourism Week, Murfreesboro’s best attractions were open to the public for free.
TMA Names Associate Members of the Year
Pamela Huey and Joy McNealy have been named Associate Members of the Year by the Tennessee Motorcoach Association. Pamela is the national sales manager for the Smith Family Theater in Pigeon Forge, and Joy serves as senior sales manager of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.
Fentress County Chamber Names New Director
Walter Page, Director of Tourism & Membership for the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce has been named the new Executive Director. Walter brings over 37 years of management and hospitality related experience to the position.
Elvis Presley Enterprises Summit Rocks Photo: Robert Dye & EPE Enterprises, Inc.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You