Dear Industry Partners,
This has been an unusual and challenging year for everyone, including those of us in the Tennessee tourism industry. It has been a time of record-breaking events, milestone celebrations and impressive successes, as well as a difficult period of gas-related volatility and traveler uncertainty. I'm glad we observe Thanksgiving in November because it is such a good reminder to reflect on all that has transpired this year and to give thanks where it is due.
Our keynote speaker at Governor’s Conference, Barbara Glanz, encouraged us to create a culture of appreciation and to celebrate what is going right on a regular basis. These important reminders are particularly appropriate during the season of thanksgiving.
Because of you, our dedicated partners, tourism continues to be a vital, growing part of the Tennessee economy. We are a team of people committed to a common goal - to increase visits from outside and within the state and to always reach toward the highest standard of excellence for our industry and for Tennessee.
We have had some very real hurdles in 2008, but we cannot allow those challenges to overshadow the many noteworthy successes we have achieved together. The 2008 TIA Economic Impact Report now ranks Tennessee 8th in "Person-Days" and 10th in "Person-Stays," the two key visitation indicators that they track nationally. That is excellent news, demonstrating Tennessee's increasingly strong position in the traveling public's mind as a tremendous vacation destination.
This is also a crucial time for leveraging our marketing dollars and assets to get the biggest collective “bang for our buck." The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is committed to providing new and better marketing and PR opportunities for the industry. This year we are providing 36 print, radio and on-line co-op opportunities. By participating in the TDTD’s co-op opportunities, you are sharing an investment and extending your advertising in areas unreached previously. Our award-winning Web site, tnvacation.com, provides the 4.5 million plus visitors to our site with more than 3,000 partner pages for which you provide content. This past year, TDTD hosted more than 100 national and regional travel writers to the various regions of the state from publications including the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Southern Living and AAA Going Places, just to name a few.
Tourism is involved with many important partnerships with our state agencies. In September, we participated in the Governor's Conference on Economic and Community Development in Nashville, with over 700 people in attendance. My special thanks to Commissioner Matt Kisber for his strong leadership and for including tourism in this important event's seminar topics.
Most recently, we joined with Commissioner Ken Givens and our colleagues in the Department of Agriculture for the first Tennessee Farmland Legacy Conference. Held at Montgomery Bell State Park, the event welcomed farmers, landowners and community leaders for a discussion of the importance of family farms to Tennessee's economic strength and quality of life. Much of the beauty that visitors enjoy in our state can be attributed to these treasured, productive lands, some of which have now added tourism as part of their business mix. Gov. Bredesen participated in the conference during a ceremony honoring Pioneer farms, which include family farms founded before or during 1796.
We are currently working with Commissioner Jim Fyke and the Department of Environment and Conservation to develop sustainability programs for the Tennessee Lodging industry and will be rolling those out in the coming year.
We are also continuing to expand our partnerships with USDA Rural Development, the University of Tennessee, MTSU, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Department of Transportation and many other organizations that can assist our communities in developing their tourism assets and economies.
I am convinced that the silver lining in shifting economic times is the drive to create and maximize prudent and innovative partnerships that benefit our entire industry in both the short term and the long term.
Our beautiful resources and wonderfully entertaining attractions aren't going anywhere - they belong to us as Tennesseans and cannot be outsourced! We stand ready to share them with millions of people needing a place to reconnect with their friends and family while having a great time. It's our job to make sure we're the first trip they make! There's no question in my mind that we can do it, and I'm very thankful for all of you who will make it happen.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
With deep appreciation,
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
“Voices of the Land” Telling East Tennessee’s Story
Davy Crockett’s first gun, the farewell letter of a trapped miner, a rare string of Cherokee beads, slave craftsmanship, a flag that draped the coffin of a man hanged during the Civil War, and Dolly Parton’s dress are among some 500 artifacts showcased in “Voices of the Land,” the new signature exhibition at the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville. The $3 million, 8,500-square-foot exhibit tells the story of more than three centuries of life in East Tennessee and is the only museum devoted to the showcasing the history of the entire region.
“The mountain-valley terrain was a powerful force in shaping the history and culture of East Tennessee,” said East Tennessee Historical Society Director Cherel Henderson. “It has given us a separate identity apart from the rest of the state.”
From Hernando de Soto to the Cherokee to the Hillbilly stereotype and the atom, the exhibit examines the compelling stories that make up the history of this colorful and diverse region.
“The strength of the exhibit is that the story is told through the actual words and experiences of the people who lived it,” said Henderson.
The exhibit features three video presentations, ambient sound, and 16 touch screens, listening stations and video diaries, as well as children’s interactives.
Visitor reaction is enthusiastic. “I found my life in there,” exclaimed one senior visitor as she exited the exhibit. Another visitor remarked, “I’m a long-time lover of museums, and I can say that this exhibit is outstanding! I can’t wait to bring my children and grandchildren.”
Partnerships were key in the planning, implementation and funding stages of the center.
• Voices of the Land was designated as a, “We the People,” project by the National Endowment for the Humanities for its role in incorporating local history into the national story.
• The State of Tennessee and Institute of Museum and Library Sciences funded a portion of the fabrication and educational components.
• Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area partially funded the Civil War section and the Civil War presentation video.
• Y-12 National Security Complex funded the Oak Ridge video album.
• The State of Tennessee legislature, federal grants, plus corporate and personal sponsorships were other key funding sources.
The East Tennessee History Center is located in downtown Knoxville at 601 South Gay Street, across from the historic Tennessee Theater. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and children 16 and under are free. For additional information, visit www.eastTNhistory.org or call (865) 215-8830.
2008 Certified Tennessee Tourism Professionals Recognized During Governor’s Luncheon
One of the highlights of the 2008 Governor's Conference on Tourism was the 2008 Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional College certification presentation.Tourism professionals from around the state received their CTTP designation during the Governor's Luncheon, Sept. 26.
"We are proud to continue this professional education opportunity in cooperation with the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable and have these CTTP graduates join 122 other tourism professionals across Tennessee who have earned the CTTP designation," said Dr. Steve Morse, director of the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute.
The 2008 class includes Brenda Cauley, director of tourism for Wayne County Economic and Community Development, Thomas Cauley, executive director for Wayne County Economic and Community Development, Melissa Cloyd, marketing and advertising director for the Jonesborough Department of Tourism, Larry Lofton, USDA Rural Economic Development, Karen Love, marketing manager for the Holiday Inn Express in Dickson, Walter Page, executive director of the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce, Heather Spillman, marketing and sales coordinator for the Wilson County CVB, Kathryn Smith, director of sales for the Williamson County CVB, and Barbara Wolke, director of group sales for the Rutherford County CVB.
The CTTP program is sponsored by the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable and administered in partnership with the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute. Its designation is recognized as a symbol of excellence and leadership within Tennessee's tourism and hospitality industries.
ARC Announces Winners of Grant Competition
The Appalachian Regional Commission announced the winners of its Gems of Appalachia grants competition for the gateway communities to two of Appalachia’s most important natural assets: Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest.
Grants totaling $259,000 were awarded to seven winners from the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. The projects presented promoted sustainable tourism, while protecting natural ecosystems, landscapes and cultural heritage.
Tennessee grant recipients are the Tennessee Overhill, Great Smoky Mountains Association, Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, Cocke County Partnership and Unicoi County.
Anne Pope, ARC federal co-chair, congratulated the winners, noting that they are building on the unique beauty and heritage of the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. Their creative proposals will not only help economically develop the region’s magnificent natural assets, they will help to safeguard them for years to come.
Tennessee Creates Musical Presence on Pandora.com
In Tennessee, we own music, and we are a place musicians call home. If you want to get your own taste of Tennessee’s music scene, explore the online music service Pandora.com. This free service allows you to create stations and explore the music you love.
We have made listening even easier on Pandora by creating a Tennessee Mixtape with over 100 songs from top Tennessee artists. From Johnny Cash and Otis Redding, to Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift, find the perfect song for your next Tennessee road trip. Visit http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh44119282827436322, and experience a piece of what Tennessee offers in the world of music.
We even asked a few top Tennessee artists to recommend their favorite songs for your next Tennessee road trip. Check out all of the interviews at tnvacation.com.
Find Out How You Can Participate in the Department’s Co-Op Advertising
Co-op advertising is part of a complete marketing strategy designed to make the most of available advertising dollars. By participating in the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s co-op opportunities, you are sharing an investment and extending your advertising in areas unreached previously.
• 36 print insertions in 21 different publications, including both target and niche-focused media
• Internet co-ops include 42 options
• Pay-per-inquiry television co-op available on a national level, as well as market specific
• Successful co-op e-mail lead generation program available, as well as online advertising buys through Paramore/Redd.
The Hartford Centernamed "Welcome Center of the Year" for2008, Center Manager Employee of the Month
Jackie Rains, manager of the I-40 Cocke County (Hartford) Welcome Center, is the Tennessee
Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for October 2008.Jackie started working as a hostess with the rest areas after the Knoxville World's Fair in the fall of 1983. In 1992, she moved to the new Hartford Welcome Center as a hostess andwas promoted to Manager at the Hartford Center about three years ago.
"Jackie is a hard worker and does a great job," said Laura Munn, welcome centers regional manager."She is willing to do whatever it takes, whether that is working as manager or filling in at the counter or working maintenance to make the center run smoothly.She is very helpful and compassionate to our visitors."
Congratulations to the Hartford Welcome Center and Jackie Rains fordoing an outstanding job for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development!
Facts & Trends
Top 10 Pages by Title on tnvacation.com for September 2008
Tennessee Vacation - The State's Official Travel Planning Web site
Tennessee Vacation - Calendar
Tennessee Vacation - Places to Stay
Tennessee Vacation - Attractions
Tennessee Vacation - East Tennessee
Tennessee Vacation - Middle Tennessee
Tennessee Vacation - Nature & Outdoors
Tennessee Vacation - MyTNVacation
Tennessee Vacation - West Tennessee
Tennessee Vacation - Music & Arts
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Expansionof Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum Begins
Officials have announced that construction has begun on the expansion of the historic Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum.Bruce Green Builders Contractors, Inc. from Martin, Tenn.won the bid for the construction project.The City of Jackson received a federal grant to build a transportation museum awarded through the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Federal funds will be used for 80 percent of the project cost, and the remaining 20 percent is provided by Brooks Shaw & Son's Old Country Store. No local tax dollars will be used to fund this project.
Tennessee Giving State Farmers $1.2 million
The state of Tennessee will give approximately $1.2 million to 204 Tennessee farmers to invest in new or expanding areas of agriculture. The Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, established in 2005 by Gov. Phil Bredesen, is funded by the Tennessee General Assembly to spur farm investment in Tennessee. The program is in its fourth year and is specifically designed to support diversified agricultural products in Tennessee. The products include agritourism, aquaculture, bees, fruits and vegetables, horticulture, organics, value-added products, viticulture, and others approved by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Three-Star Certifications Earned
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matthew Kisber announced that Montgomery County and Dyer County have achieved certification under the state's Three-Star program. Tennessee's Three-Star program helps urban and rural communities develop strategic economic and community development plans that meet the needs and challenges of an ever-changing economic environment.
According to AAA Survey, TN and PA are Top Targets for Fall Foliage
Tennessee and Pennsylvania are Americans’ top targets for fall foliage. Each captures 13 percent of fall foliage travelers, according to research by AAA and Ypartnership.Close behind are Massachusetts and New York (10 percent), and Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin (nine percent). The Tennessee fall color hotline is (800) 697-4200.
Southeast Tennessee to Lure Tourists for Civil War Anniversary
Chattanooga area officials are working to lure tourists to lesser-known Civil War sites over the next few years as the region looks ahead to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which begins in 2011 and runs for four years. The Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association has plotted dozens of historic sites on a driving tour and produced a brochure highlighting some lesser-known Civil War landmarks. The brochure identifies 47 sites in a 10-county region.
Memphis Children's Museum
Children Vote for President of the United StatesDuring Children’s Choice
The Children’s Museum of Memphis presented “Children’s Choice: It’s a Voting Thing!” This unique program is offered once every four years during presidential elections. Children learn how the United States chooses its president during the program. They enjoy this interactive voting experience by casting their “vote” for president of the United States and their favorite “city friend” – policeman, fireman, nurse or teacher. They also make a stovepipe and Uncle Sam hat, design a campaign button, and fill out their very own voter registration card.
Farlow Selected Cleveland Chamber President
Gary Farlow will assume the responsibilities of president and chief executive officer for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 1. Farlow accepts the position after an intensive national search.
Brooks Shaw's Old Country Store
Tennessee Makes List of “100 Southern Foods You Absolutely Positively Must Try Before You Die”
Famed food connoisseur, John T. Edge, has posted his 100 Southern Foods listing and Tennessee made the list!
Beans All the Way The Bean Barn Greeneville, Tenn.
Catfish of Pork B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que Lexington, Tenn.
Cornish Game Hen Cozy Corner Memphis, Tenn.
Fried Green Tomatoes Arnold’s Country Kitchen Nashville, Tenn.
Hot Fish Sandwich Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish Nashville, Tenn.
Hot Fried Chicken Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack Nashville, Tenn.
Pimento Cheese and Crackers Blackberry Farm Walland, Tenn.
Pork Neck Bones and Rice The Sands Nashville, Tenn.
Redneck Taco Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint Nolensville, Tenn.
Cracklin’ Hoe Cakes Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store Jackson, Tenn.
Praise the Lard Biscuits Beacon Light Tea Room Bon Aqua, Tenn.
Fried Coconut Pie Mrs. Armstrong’s Fried Pies Centerville, Tenn.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You