Dear Industry Partner,
Tourism is an industry of constant activity, especially here in Tennessee. We catch a quick breath from our busy summer just in time to prepare for the fall season: football, state and county fairs, over 200 fall festivals across the state, corn mazes and that first cool breeze of autumn. It truly is a special time in Tennessee.
Tennessee Tourism’s communications department just completed the Smoky Mountain travel writer tour with 25 writers visiting major attractions and treasure troves throughout the area. Plans are now being finalized for the Upper Cumberland travel writer tour at the end of September where we will showcase another beautiful region of our state.
As we continue to plan for the future of tourism, let me encourage all of you to join us in Gatlinburg for the 2008 Governor’s Conference on Tourism, with the theme “Reaching Higher Ground.” Key note speaker Beverly Glanz will motivate us with her keen perspective and insight, speaking on “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm – Creating Workplaces of Passion, Purpose and Productivity.” Read on in this e-newsletter for additional conference details. I look forward to seeing you in Gatlinburg.
This year, we have been privileged to launch the Civil War Trail, a world-class trail to encompass five states. Tennessee is the fifth state to participate in this very successful tourism program. I’m pleased to announce that Tennessee’s first Civil War Trails signage will be unveiled at the Franklin Courthouse on September 17. This official placement is just the beginning of linking Tennessee’s important historical Civil War sites to this multistate network. For more information on the Civil War Trails program, go to www.civilwartrails.org.
As many of you know, state government is changing and one of Governor Bredesen’s goals is to make state government more technologically capable. One of the ways this is happening is with the Edison Project. I want to thank Assistant Commissioner of Administration Tom Lightsey for his leadership on this project, as well as our department budget, and other important administrative concerns. His work, though often done behind the scenes and without public recognition, is the foundation of our department’s success. I appreciate him and his staff very much.
Finally, please allow me take this opportunity to remember Isaac Hayes, one of the true champions of Tennessee and our tourism industry. As one of Tennessee’s native sons, Isaac Hayes achieved international acclaim as a Grammy and Oscar award-winning Stax recording artist. We were fortunate to have Isaac endorse our industry in the “Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You” television and radio campaigns. He gave generously of his time and enormous talent to help set the stage for the remarkable success of this major marketing initiative. For many reasons, Isaac Hayes will be deeply missed by Tennessee, his many friends and admirers in Tennessee Tourism.
To you, our important Tennessee ambassadors, thank you for the great work you do for tourism and for the state of Tennessee – I hope to see many of you at the Governor’s Conference!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Second Grant for Civil War Trails
Tourism Garners Second Enhancement Grant for
Civil War Trails
Governor Phil Bredesen has announced a second enhancement grant, provided by the state, in the amount of $543,480 to assist with phase two of the Tennessee Civil War Trails program, operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourism. The grant funds will be used to develop Civil War Trails sites in communities across the state. Phase two will result in more than 250 newly interpreted and accessible Civil War sites.“This program will create more easily accessible, user friendly system for travelers to follow as they explore sites and transportation corridors associated with the American Civil War in Tennessee,” said Governor Bredesen. “It also encourages partnerships between state agencies and local communities. I’m proud the State of Tennessee can make investments like this to enhance local communities for the benefit of citizens and visitors alike.”
Susan Whitaker, Commissioner of the Department of Tourist Development said, "On behalf of the many state agencies, legislators and local community leaders who partnered to develop the Civil War Trails initiative, I would like to thank Governor Bredesen and Commissioner Gerald Nicely of TDOT for this enhancement grant to expand this important project. This expansion will enable hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans and visitors from around the world to experience and appreciate Tennessee's rich Civil War heritage as well as preserve the integrity of these historic sites for future generations." The grant is made possible through a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. This program is recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the most sustainable heritage tourism programs in the nation.
Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area Director, Dr. Van West, said "The Civil War Trails project helps communities to identify and use their heritage assets for local economic growth. This grant helps to further this cause."
“TDOT has funded more than $189 million in transportation related projects through our Enhancement Grant Program,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “This program provides funds to cities, counties and state organizations to fund activities such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping, street-scaping and other non-traditional transportation projects.”
The Tennessee Civil War Trails program will be both a freestanding, statewide program and a part of the existing 800-site, three-state Civil War Trails program which has been developed through similar grant funding. The project will encourage and reward local governments and private sector participants that establish, promote and maintain the program in their areas.
State Installs first Civil War Trails Marker
Tennessee Civil War Trails: Breaking Ground
The first marker of the Tennessee Civil War Trails program will be installed at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, September 17, in front of the Williamson County Courthouse in Historic Downtown Franklin. Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely will unveil the Franklin Gateway marker. The event is open to the public. This gateway marker will act as a map to Civil War sites related to Hood’s Campaign in the Franklin/Williamson County area.
Subsequent markers will be installed throughout the rest of the week in Wiliamson, Maury, Sullivan and in Giles County at Lairdland Farmhouse in Cornersville, Tennessee. The owners of Lairdland will be holding a dedication ceremony for the marker on Saturday, September 27, which will coincide with their Third Annual Living History Weekend, taking place September 25 – 27. For more information on this event, please contact the Lairdland Farmhouse at 931-363-2205 or visit their Web site at www.lairdlandfarmhouse.com. More installations will take place later in the year. Find out how your community can get on the trail by contacting Noell Rembert, 615-532-8077 firstname.lastname@example.org or Lee Curtis, 615-741-9045 email@example.com.
Tennessee Animal Attractions Tops with Trip Advisor Travelers
Visitors to Gatlinburg, Memphis and Chattanooga have been putting the cities’ animal attractions at the top of their “must see” list for years. But now the attractions are showcased at the top of another list; TripAdvisor’s Top 10 U.S. Aquariums and Zoos.
According to traveler popularity and TripAdvisor editors, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga hold the number one and number two spots. The Memphis Zoo landed at the top of the list for zoos.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is Gatlinburg’s number one attraction. It has ranked in the top three of Tennessee’s most visited attractions during its entire eight year history. The aquarium, featuring a new 12-foot shark, is an underwater treasure of more than 10,000 colorful sea creatures from more than 350 species.
The world’s largest fresh water exhibition is in Chattanooga at the Tennessee Aquarium. Together, with its Ocean Journey facility, the complex is home to more than 12,000 fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds, penguins, butterflies and more. This summer, the attraction introduced the River Gorge Explorer. A naturalist accompanying this sleek, high speed 70 passenger catamaran leads guests into the protected habitat inside the Tennessee River Gorge, pointing out wildlife and historic points of interest along the way.
The Memphis Zoo is a sanctuary for more than 3500 animals and has provided an entertaining and educational experience to its guests for 100-plus years. In the past 20 years, the zoo has completed more than $80 million in renovations and new construction.
“These aquariums and zoos offer wonderful learning experiences about animals and their habitats, and truly let travelers take a walk on the wild side,” said Michele Perry, vice president of global communications for TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel community. The site boasts of more than 15,000,000 traveler reviews and opinions of hotels, and vacations…not to mention America’s top animal attractions found in Tennessee.
Visitors at Sun Studios gather around the
1949 Cadillac for the history ride from
Jackson to Memphis.
54/54: A Big Rockabilly Hit!
Fifty-four years ago, in 1954, Carl Perkins and his brothers J.B. and Clayton along with W.S. Holland drove along Hwy. 70 from Jackson to Memphis to make their first recording at Sun Studios. They had no idea they were making music history with their first rockabilly recording to which the world would listen and dance.
Last month rockabilly legends and fans celebrated the opening of the 2008 International Rockabilly Music Festival in Jackson. Kicking off festival activities, W.S. Holland, the only surviving member of the original Carl Perkins band, re-created the original ride in a 1949 Cadillac. W.S. was joined by Carl Mann and Rayburn Anthony on the sentimental journey to Sun. When the trio arrived at Sun Studio in Memphis they went to the very spot where Carl and W.S. originally recorded the hit "Movie Magg." As fans gathered around, the trio played several of Carl Perkins hits. Upon returning to Jackson the group was joined by rockabilly legends Narvel Felts, Sunny Burgess and the Pacers, Ace Cannon and many more.
The International Rockabilly Hall of Fame showcases numerous memorabilia, video interviews with people who created the music, as well as 14 life size oil portraits of major rockabilly superstars. Outside the museum on the buildings exterior wall facing Rockabilly park is a mural celebrating rockabilly legends Carl Perkins, W.S. Holland, Wink Martindale and rock legend Paul McCartney, who is a huge Carl Perkins fan.
Henry Harrison, the brainchild of the popular attraction, picked Jackson for its location because it is the city where Carl Perkins launched his illustrious career. Jackson is also strategically located between Nashville, the home of country music (previously referred to as hillbilly music) and Memphis, the birthplace of rock and roll. Rockabilly gets its name from the fusion of the hillbilly and rock genres.
Whether it’s rockabilly or any of the other musical genres of our state, as the Carl Perkins recording says, “You Can Do No Wrong” with a trip to Tennessee!
Governor’s Conference on Tourism
This year’s theme “Tennessee Tourism: Reaching Higher Ground,” sets the stage for the 2008 Governor’s Conference on Tourism to be held Sept. 24 – 26, 2008 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
The Super Series on Wednesday, Sept. 24 is a “must” event to attend as a prelude to the conference. Bill & Fran Lytle will conduct a high-energy session on branding a destination. Acclaimed speaker and author Barbara Glanz will officially kick off the annual event on Thursday, Sept. 25. Other highlights include educational seminars designed for all segments of the tourism industry, unbeatable networking opportunities, the "State of the Industry" address by Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker, and the Governor’s luncheon and address.
“The Governor’s Conference is always a highlight of the year for me personally and for the Tennessee tourism industry,” said Whitaker. “This year is especially exciting as we gather in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as they lead-up to the 75th anniversary celebration in 2009. The conference is an important time for us to assess the economic environment and discover the latest ideas in successful tourism promotion.”
According to the Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties report provided by the Travel Industry Association of America, in 2006, tourism generated a $13.4 billion economic impact to the state’s economy. As Tennessee’s number one non-agricultural industry, the contribution tourism makes in employment alone is significant with more than 181,000 individuals employed in the industry.
The conference is open to all tourism industry partners. For information including the schedule of events and registration information, please visit the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable’s Web site at www.tenntourismroundtable.com or call (615) 734-9380.
Tribute to Isaac Hayes
Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated the life of the late Isaac Hayes, who died unexpectedly at his home in Memphis. Isaac was born in West Tennessee in Tipton County. Although he traveled the world because of his musical talent and skill, he always called Tennessee home.
It was an honor and a privilege for Isaac to generously share his talent with Tennessee Tourism. In spring of 2004, the tourism department filmed the first series of commercials in the “Tennessee: The Stage is Set for you,” television and radio campaign, featuring Dolly Parton and Isaac Hayes. The Isaac spots were filmed at the Stax Museum where Isaac “made the day” with his great spirit of cooperation, patience and fun-loving personality. His deep voice resonated with a personal invitation, “Tennessee: The Stage is Set for You, Come out and Play on it.” His commercials were still a part of the state’s rotation until the time of his death.
Isaac, reared by his grandparents, attended church regularly and developed his musical talent singing in the choir. He attended high school in Memphis and gravitated to the music clubs that were coming on the scene during the ‘60’s. He soon found himself walking through the doors of STAX Studio and became a session pianist. The rest is music history. “The enormity of Isaac’s contributions is almost too much to try and reflect upon. He was one of the key architect’s of the Stax sound, the Memphis sound, and the legacy that Stax is recognized for today,” said Deanie Parker, longtime Stax veteran and recently retired president of the Soulsville Foundation. “All the things that have made that music so indelible for so many generations, Isaac has to be credited with much of that,” said Parker.
Songwriter, actor, musician, author, Oscar-winner, and Grammy-winner, Isaac Hayes was also honored by the Tennessee General Assembly. He was a larger-than-life, true Tennessee music legend. During his lifetime, Isaac contributed to educational efforts for young people because he believed in their educational growth, and contributed to many other charities.
He will be greatly missed.
The Volunteer Spirit
During the Labor Day weekend, the country was braced for another major weather disaster with Hurricane Gustav on the horizon. Many agencies were galvanized to action to aid and assist.
In tourism, members of our staff worked with both operations and communications. Tami Giles worked with operations and Derrick Smith with communications, working in the “pit” with TEMA.
Also, TH&LA encouraged hotel and lodging properties to be inviting and supportive with signage, rates and making evacuees comfortable during this time.
Though the Labor Day Weekend weather crises has passed, we know other crisis are on the horizon and the Volunteer spirit will be evident as we move forward.
Facts & Trends
Customer Service…it’s essential. When is the last time you walked to the ticket counter at an attraction, had a meal at a restaurant or while paying a bill and encountered poor customer service? It can happen and for some all to often. Research shows that excellent and exceptional customer service yields great benefits for any business. Find out how the service you offer as a employee or a business can be improved. Bricks & mortar make a great facility, commercials and ads provide great marketing, but all is lost without good customer service. You can learn how to deliver better customer service at the 2008 Governor’s Conference in Gatlinburg, Sept. 24-26. Go to tenntourismroundtable.com.
Renewable Energy…it works. The Adventure Science Center in Nashville has developed a great new program on Renewable Energy. Individuals can donate used musical greeting cards because the sound circuits work well with small solar panels. It’s a way to conserve and renew.
Take a Vacation…it’s necessary. TIA President and CEO, Roger Dow, reports that Americans take the shortest vacations of any other citizens in the industrial world. Increased vacation time and travel are important for the health, well-being and productivity of Americans, and increasing awareness about the value of vacations and travel are essential to the continued stability and growth of the travel industry, as well as the well-being of indivuals. TIA is working to raise visibility on the importance of taking vacations and traveling, in the media and among various stakeholders. A story was recently on Fox News Channel that addresses this issue.
World Tourism Day will be celebrated across the U.S. and around the world on Saturday, September 27, 2008.
Quote of the Month
“Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it…Attitude” Charles R. Swindell
State Welcome Centers to Host POW-MIA Flag Ceremony
The state welcome centers will be the site of the Prisoner of War-Missing in Action (POW-MIA) Recognition Day flag raising ceremony sponsored by Rolling Thunder Inc., a national veterans support organization. The ceremony will be held, Friday, Sept. 19, at 8 a.m. local time, in recognition of POW-MIA Day at 12 permanent locations of the 13 state welcome centers.
The ceremony will consist of a representative from the organization speaking on the POW-MIA Recognition and raising the POW-MIA flag in conjunction with the United States and state of Tennessee flags.
There are five Rolling Thunder chartered chapters in Tennessee and another being formed. The group has more than 500 members throughout the state. Rolling Thunder strives to bring awareness about members of the armed forces who are prisoners of war or missing in action. The organization holds an annual ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. during the Memorial Day Weekend in May.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
The Hermitage Debuts New Andrew Jackson Coin
The new Andrew Jackson Presidential $1 coin made its national debut at The Hermitage. The United States Mint Deputy Director Andrew Brunhart joined The Hermitage board of directors on the front lawn of the historic mansion in a ceremonial "pour" of thousands of the coins. All children attending the event under the age of 18 received the Andrew Jackson Presidential coin.
Dover Featured in the New York Times
Havens, the New York Times real estate and lifestyle section, featured an article on the charms and affordability of Dover, Tennessee. The focus of the story was the town itself, which was described as “A Small Town Where the Lakes Loom Large.” Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, the Cumberland River, the Civil War, TVA and the Corps of Engineers were all discussed as part of Dover's charm. Stewart County Chamber of Commerce President Ken McGhee said, “It’s the kind of publicity you just can’t buy.”
Downtown Dyersburg Gets Grant
The revitalization of Dyersburg's downtown recently received a TDOT grant of $722,918, confirmed by State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris for enhancement to Dyer County's Courthouse Square. Leaders from Dyer County and Dyersburg city government and Main Street Dyersburg officially received the grant from Gov. Phil Bredesen and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Lookout Mountain on Top in US Natural Attractions
The Travel Industry Association and AOL Travel recently named “America’s Amazing Natural Wonders.” Ruby Falls and Rock City both made the top of the list. Ruby Falls was listed as number three on AOL’s travel page and Rock City was number five. For decades Rock City has been tagged as the “World’s 8th Wonder.” Ruby Falls is America’s deepest commercial cave and largest underground waterfall available to the public. Rock City Gardens is one of the south’s oldest and most popular natural attractions.
Greenway Extended Thanks to Grant
Phase IV of the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway has been approved by the Governor's office for a $569,000 Enhancement Grant. The Mouse Creek phase of the Greenway will be extended from Raider Drive to Tinsley Park thanks to these funds. State Rep. Kevin Brooks said "I am thrilled Gov. Bredesen and TDOT have approved more than a half-million dollars for the Mouse Creek Greenway phase in Cleveland.”
New Drive at MTSU Adorned with State Capitol Columns
The new roundabout drive at MTSU declares history that reaches back 150 years in Tennessee. The MTSU Boulevard entrance into the campus at Rutherford Boulevard reopened giving faculty, staff, visitors and students a chance to try out the roundabout at MTSU Boulevard and Blue Raider Drive. At the edge of the roundabout, campus visitors will also see portions of columns that once graced the State Capitol in Nashville. The columns were originally a part of the Tennessee State Capitol in 1858 or 1859, but did not withstand the weather and were replaced in the mid- to late-1950s
Welcome new Sumner County CVB Team Member
Ashley Staley has joined Sumner County CVB as marketing director. You may recognize her name; Ashley was most recently at Mansker’s Station as their historic sites director.
Discovery Park Hires Marketing Director
Larry Snider, former director of global marketing communications for Eastman Chemical Co., has been named marketing director for Discovery Park of America, according to an announcement by DPA president Jim Rippy. DPA is a multi-million dollar educational-entertainment-tourist magnet being built between Highway 51 and the future path of I-69 on the west side of Union City. Snider’s job will be to help the world “Discover” the dream as it develops and becomes an exciting reality.
Bonnie Dickson, Marty Marbry
and Phyllis Qualls-Brooks
Marty Marbry, West Tennessee regional manager with the Tennessee Dept. of Tourist Development has been named to the Board of Directors of the Southeast Tourism Society and the Memphis Tourism Foundation. STS is a multi-destination travel planning guide for 12 southern states and sponsors Marketing College, held annually in Dahlonega, GA. The Memphis Tourism Foundation is the educational and philanthropic arm of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and promotes educational opportunities for Memphis youth in the tourism industry.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You