March Madness – to many those words mean lots of exciting basketball, crazy collegiate mascots and millions of screaming fans. For those of us in tourism, March Madness has a special, added meaning – vacation season is almost here and it’s crunch time in getting ready for our guests! Springtime is an incredibly beautiful time of year in Tennessee and soon millions of tourists will discover that for themselves. That’s when the ‘Madness’ is worth it all!
Once again, Gov. Phil Bredesen has submitted a common sense, balanced budget (his fifth in a row!) to the Tennessee General Assembly and has included a recommendation for a $4.75 million improvement in tourism marketing funds as well as the $1.5 million necessary to provide additional services for the state’s highly regarded Welcome Centers. We are so grateful for the Governor’s continuing support and confidence in this industry’s remarkable ability to return on the state’s investment. It will be a pleasure to report the industry’s enormous success in the upcoming legislative hearings as we ask the General Assembly to approve the Governor’s recommended budget for Tourist Development.
Our mission is to build on this success as we promote the state and continue to get the word out to current and new markets about Tennessee’s beauty and attractions, both natural and man-made. As part of the department’s marketing plan, our new print campaign includes 16 niche market versions which talk about specific things a visitor can do here. These range from visiting heritage sites like the Carnton Plantation to music festivals. However, in our zest and zeal to promote every possible niche market, we missed a critical proofing step in the production of our trail biking ad which ended up with a stock image from outside of Tennessee. Personally, I will tell you that I hate to make a mistake, and I particularly hate to find out about it in the press, but it was our mistake and I would like to apologize to all of you for not catching it before it ran. I assure you, this will never happen again. We all believe Tennessee’s beauty is spectacular and does not need images from any other place to prove it!
Spring is a time of renewal, so let’s collectively renew our efforts to excite, inform and encourage visitors from all over the world to come and experience Tennessee. Each of us here in the Department offers you our continued support in accomplishing that goal.
Enjoy the “Madness”…Spring cannot be far behind!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Travel Writer Tours
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is gearing up for a series of travel writer press tours throughout the state that will begin in West Tennessee this June. Geiger & Associates have been awarded the contract to coordinate the tours and is working with the department to develop a variety of interest tracks for the writers including music and arts, history and heritage and outdoor recreation, just to name a few.
The media tours throughout West, Middle and East Tennessee will allow the state to boost its media coverage and garner editorial placement in a variety of national and international publications. The tours will be packed with a host of activities that relate to the writer’s specific niche and publication. Each tour is expected to bring in 15-20 travel writers.
:pullquote: While Tennessee currently receives significant publicity and media coverage, the press tours will help tout the state as a prime destination to discover America’s best.
“Travel writer tours give us an opportunity to maximize our national press efforts,” said Cindy Dupree, director of communications. “This is the best of all worlds- we are hosting the writers as only Southerners can do, working with our partners to showcase our state’s remarkable tourism assets, and, most importantly, getting Tennessee’s message to our consumers. Expectations are high for successful tours in our work with Geiger & Associates.”
Besides the West Tennessee tour June 5-10, there are three other tours scheduled for the remainder of the year including Southeast Tennessee June 25-30, Middle Tennessee September 10-16 and Northeast Tennessee October 23-29.
“The media tours will feature numerous optional activity tracks which are designed to cover the broadest range of the state’s tourism offerings and will involve not only the state’s iconic product, but will include many of Tennessee’s wonderful off-the-beaten path destinations,” said Debbie Geiger, president of Geiger & Associates.
Two press tours have already been added to the state’s itinerary for 2008 including Knoxville, Oak Ridge and Upper Cumberland and also Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, both planned for next spring.
Williamson County Task Force Announces Recommendations
After six months of study, research and discussion, the Williamson County Tourism Task Force has announced its recommendations for major changes in the program of work for tourism development and promotion in the county.
The Task Force delivered its findings and recommendations to Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson at a presentation on February 28 at the Life Sciences Center in Franklin.
Made up of 26 individuals from the heritage tourism, lodging and retail communities, as well as representatives from local governments, chambers of commerce and parks and recreation departments, the Task Force was created in September 2006 by Mayor Anderson, the Williamson County Tourism Commission and the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The group was charged with the task of undertaking a comprehensive study of tourism development in Williamson County, establishing long-range goals for its future and developing an agreed-upon plan of action for tourism development in Williamson County that will accomplish those long-range goals.
“This group of very diverse people with very different ideas about tourism became a real team through this process,” said Task Force Chair Judy Hayes. “They came together in a remarkable way to craft and adopt a consensus plan that benefits our entire county and all of the tourism stakeholders.”
The major recommendations of the Task Force include:
The reorganization of the Convention and Visitors Bureau into an independent 501 (c) (6) agency. The new CVB would be governed by a Board of Directors made up of appointments from the governments of Williamson County, the City of Franklin and the City of Brentwood.
A greatly expanded program of work. The Task Force identified a number of marketing and sales initiatives that they believe the new CVB should undertake.
An expanded budget based on dedicated lodging-tax funding. The Task Force recommended that Williamson County, the City of Franklin, and the City of Brentwood each consider dedicating one of the four percentage points lodging tax which they each collect for the work of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. As a result, the annual budget for the CVB would grow from $402,000.00 to approximately $1.1 million.
“The Task Force wants to emphasize its strong belief that this is a sound investment on the part of the local governments which will actually yield a much greater return to them than ever before in new lodging and travel-related sales tax collections,” said John Whisenant, executive director of the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Whisenant has recently been named executive director of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable.
Why Tennesseans Vacation in Tennessee?
Bruce and Melanie Wilson from Franklin are finishing a candied apple and box of popcorn with their three children while sitting on the steps in front of Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. They have already enjoyed a fairly early drive into the Smoky Mountains and a walk up to Cataract Falls. “We try to come back a couple of times a year to give the kids a taste of the mountains and to do some of the fun things they’ll remember when they get older,” says Melanie.
:pullquote: Ray and Virginia Moore from Tullahoma have just booked a cabin that sleeps eight at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Their son and his family from Georgia will join them for a week-long vacation that will include hiking and fishing and maybe a scenic day trip into the Sequatchie Valley.
These two couples are at different stages in their lives, yet they have one thing in common: both have chosen their home state of Tennessee for their vacation.
Ray and Virginia love the outdoors. They have camped at Paris Landing State Park, along Cordell Hull Lake near Carthage…even in their own hometown along Woods Reservoir. “We enjoy everything Tennessee has to offer,” says Virginia. “Fortunately I’ve been able to keep Mr. Moore from taking up golf,” she laughs.
When Mrs. Moore is not planning a family vacation, she is coordinating a Tennessee vacation for her senior adult group at church. They have enjoyed Fall foliage in the mountains, water creatures at the Tennessee Aquarium, cars being assembled in Smyrna and Spring Hill, and antebellum homes in Columbia. They also savor unique eating destinations. They have lunched down the road at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House in Lynchburg, and down the river on fancy riverboats, including the General Jackson Showboat in Nashville and the Southern Belle in Chattanooga.
So why do Tennesseans vacation in Tennessee? Maybe it’s the thrill of their heart racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, riding the tracks inside the new Mystery Mine at Dollywood, or seeing their country music idol take the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. They love the homes of our people, such as Elvis, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Alex Haley or Davy Crockett. Tennesseans relish the stories of history told at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, the Casey Jones Village in Jackson, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol…or on our Civil War battlefields at Shiloh, Franklin and Chickamauga?
No wonder Tennesseans vacation in Tennessee. The destinations are close to home where the stage is set for a lifetime of beauty, relaxation and fun.
BurrellesLuce Now Online
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s media clipping service, BurrellesLuce is now online and available to our industry partners for viewing. BurrellesLuce monitors more than 20,000 print publications and more than 10,000 web media outlets for Tennessee Tourism news. All articles that feature news about Tennessee Tourism are then posted on the BurrellesLuce website.
To view the current clips online, go to tnvacation.com/press The BurrellesLuce icon is located underneath “Submit a Press Release”. By clicking on the icon, all of our industry partners can view the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s BurrellesLuce account. After clicking on the icon, you will be redirected to the BurrellesLuce home page. At the top left of the screen, click “Client Login”. Here, you simply provide the username and password to view the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s BurrelesLuce account. (Please contact Catherine.email@example.com for the username and password) This allows our valued partners to view all of the clips received which are sorted by West, Middle and East Regions.
An additional feature of the online clipping service is the ability to create “clip books”. This simply means that the department will begin sorting the online clips in folders or “clip books” for individual partners. These “books” will be e-mailed to our partners for viewing and archives. This tool will be particularly helpful in maintaining records of media exposure and in capturing the media value of partner and state public relations efforts.
BurrellesLuce, is the global community’s leading media monitoring organization, providing the highest caliber coverage of news and information available—across all media, and many countries, worldwide. Their coverage includes print, broadcast, newswires and the Internet. What’s more, it’s all delivered through an innovative monitoring system that draws upon the latest to get you only the news you need.
The Communications Department directly oversees the BurrellesLuce online clipping service. Please feel free to contact Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s BurrellesLuce Online account allows all industry partners to receive any news about them however, access to the account makes it possible for all industry partners to view all clips received for any region in Tennessee.
STS Marketing College Scholarships
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, together with Official Tennessee State Vacation Guide publisher Miles Media Group, will be offering two full scholarships to the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) Marketing College to tourism marketing professionals in the state of Tennessee.
The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast United States. From July 29 - August 3, 2007 the courses will be held at the campus of North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, GA. During this week, students will experience a broad-based curriculum of courses designed to teach marketing techniques from all facets of the tourism industry. Marketing College professors are working, experienced professionals from across the country that not only bring expertise, but real-world knowledge and skill to the classroom. Students who attend three years of Marketing College receive a Travel Marketing Professional (TMP) certification, presented at a special graduation ceremony at the STS Spring Meeting.
:pullquote: The STS Marketing scholarships will be awarded to two Tennessee tourism professionals and will cover tuition, accommodations and most meals for the 2007 session. The scholarships will be granted based on criteria established by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, which will encompass both financial need and professional aptitude. The STS application is attached. The deadline for the scholarship application is March 22, 2007.
“Tourism education means we are constantly raising the bar in our industry,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker. “STS Marketing College is an organization committed to our industry’s growth, prosperity and competitive edge. It’s wonderful to have STS and Miles Media working with us to promote education in Tennessee’s tourism industry.”
Scott Templeton, Miles Media Group Southeast U.S. Regional Publisher, says, "We are very excited to provide individuals in the Tennessee tourism industry with an opportunity for professional growth, exchange of ideas and networking with their peers in the Tennessee and Southeast tourism communities."
For more information on how to apply, contact Mary Steadman at Mary.Steadman@MilesMedia.com or 423-956-4330.
Nickajack Welcome Center
Serene. Relaxing. Beautiful. These words have been used to describe the Nickajack Tennessee Welcome Center on I-24.
Resting along Nickajack Lake, the center serves as an oasis for travelers as they journey to Tennessee from Alabama and Georgia. One of the unique qualities of this facility is it is the only Tennessee Welcome Center, among the thirteen, that borders a lake.The team of eight that staffs Nickajack looks forward to serving the visitors that come into the center. In 2005, this close knit group welcomed 1,246,836 travelers.
:pullquote: “Visitors love the location of our Center and some stop here on their annual trips,” said Esther Bowles. “In the Fall, many travelers enjoy the color of the trees and comment on the beauty and serenity of the area. At other times, families take pleasure in eating near the water in the picnic area.”
Bowles, a 22- year veteran with the Department, has served as manager of the Nickajack Center since 1998.
Frequently travelers journey just three miles downstream of the Center to see the Nickajack Dam. Built in 1967 by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the lock at the Nickajack Dam is used for navigation of barges and towboats down the Tennessee River. The lock can lift as many as nine large barges at one time 41 feet above Gunther Lake.
“There are rustic camp grounds located close by the dam and it is a great place to view people boating and fishing,” said Bowles.
Next month’s e-newsletter will feature the newly rebuilt Chattanooga Welcome Center!
Great Race has announced that Savannah Tennessee will be an Official Host City for Great American Race 2007. During the 25th Anniversary Cross Country Race the event participants will stop for lunch July 3, 2007 as part of the 4,000 mile journey across the United States.
After more than 20 years on the air, Knoxville native, Ramsey Pollard hung up his hat as the host of the radio talk show “Ramblin With Ramsey”. Ramsey has dedicated his show to travel, hospitality and tourism. The show has aired in all 50 states and 12 foreign countries.
According to Expansion Management Magazine, Chattanooga is among the 50 hottest cities nationwide for companies looking to expand or relocate.
Fall Creek Falls
Fall Creek Falls State Park has undergone a $1.8 million overhaul. The state park boasts one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains and draws almost a million visitors a year.
Secret City Festival Oak Ridge Tennessee earns the Top 20 Events designation from Southeast Tourism Society.
Historic RCA Studio B celebrates a golden milestone. Studio B, the Home of 1,000 Hits, where superstars like Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Elvis Presley and many others recorded some of American music’s most enduring songs, turns 50 in 2007.
"A Taste of Jackson and West Tennessee" will feature the culinary expertise of Clark Shaw. He will be showcasing some of the Old Country Store’s award winning signature southern dishes.
The City of Pigeon Forge now has a new claim to fame - an Emmy Award. At the 21st annual Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards recently, Pigeon Forge picked up a statue for Best Commercial Campaign for its "Welcome to My Pigeon Forge" series of commercials.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You