Sampler Super Successful
Commissioner Whitaker speaks at
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s 2009 Tennessee Sampler took place Feb. 10 in Washington, D.C. Over 80 tourism professionals from across the state gathered at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center for a trade show event, featuring more than 300 guests and a performance by entertainment legend Dolly Parton. This year’s Sampler was the kick-off event for the 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Invited guests included tour operators, group leaders, AAA offices, freelance travel writers, and local, regional and national media outlets. Sampler guests were the first to hear Parton perform songs from her new musical, “Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke.” The musical, which opens at Pigeon Forge’s Dollywood theme park, May 9, is a celebration of the spirit, heritage and people of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Parton is donating proceeds from first-year sales of her new eight-song, commemorative “Sha-Kon-O-Hey!” CD to the non-profit organization Friends of the Smokies.
Dolly Parton performs at Sampler
“This was one of the most popular and positive trade shows I've ever attended,” said Bethe Pope, Lookout Mountain Attractions. “This year's Sampler gave us immediate results. The program was efficient, creative and generated fun and excitement for our existing and potential clients.”
The day-long activities began with Parton’s lunchtime appearance at the National Press Club. A special media briefing took place from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Gaylord National, featuring Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson and Parton. The press event was followed immediately by the Tennessee Sampler trade show from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Parton then took the 75th Anniversary story nationwide with an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live at 9 p.m.
This year’s Sampler was the kick-off event for the 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.“Tennessee has created a show that brings our great state to a specific market in hopes they are enticed to come here and visit it for themselves,” said Paula Hankins, The Hermitage – Home of President Andrew Jackson. “I have no doubt
that they leave wanting more Tennessee after spending an evening with us!”
Other world-class, tourism attractions represented at the Tennessee Sampler were Elvis’s Graceland, the Grand Ole Opry, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, The Peabody Memphis, and Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
In addition to the special performance by Parton and Dollywood’s, “Sha-Kon-O-Hey!” cast members, Sampler guests had the opportunity to receive Tennessee information distributed from Tennessee partner booths, win door prizes, and enjoy delicious food and beverages.
Tennessee Tourism Launches New Amateur Sports Initiative
Attends NASC Sports Event with “Play Tennessee” Message
Tennessee Tourism has launched “Play Tennessee,” a statewide youth and collegiate sports alliance formed with CVBs and tourism partners. “Play Tennessee” is a strategic marketing initiative created to brand the state’s youth and collegiate sporting events and help leverage tourism partner dollars in this growing segment of the industry.
As an early but significant first step, the department will have a sponsorship during 2009’s NASC Sports Event Symposium April 27-29 in Denver, Colorado. The National Association of Sports Commissions is the sports event industry’s leading networking association and represents nearly 500 organizations and 300 cities within the industry across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Amateur sporting events continue to be a sustainable industry, reaching across Tennessee with major events from Memphis to Bristol. Families place importance on travel for their children’s extracurricular activities and are using this time as a vacation, often staying longer in each destination.
Stay-tuned for continued roll-out of this important branding initiative as the 2009/2010 budget is approved and additional funds are allocated for “Play Tennessee.”
Highlands Visitor Center, Cookeville
Highlands Visitor Center Opens Doors to Regional Tourism
The Cookeville-Putman County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has opened its new Highland Visitor Center just off I-40 in Cookeville. The new stand-alone facility is a key part of the CVB’s short-term strategy to showcase the area to travelers already familiar with the "easy-on, easy-off" “interstate exit for food, gas and lodging.
When the CVB was planning its new center, its staff was not just thinking about the tourism assets of one county. Instead, they envisioned a regional center focusing on three counties: Putman, Overton and White. Inside are interactive displays of area attractions; arts and crafts from local artists, historical exhibits, a 32-inch flat screen TV showcasing scenes of the Highlands and a wall-sized map highlighting the Upper Cumberland’s’ points of interest.
Travelers are introduced to the Highland's finest offerings in outdoor recreation, cultural arts, historic attractions and museums and music. Wineries and other on-the-farm activities along with golf, retail and special events are also featured.
The center is filled with more than just brochures. "It's more than that,” says CVB Director Laura Canada. “it's people feeling like they can have ownership in it and can go in there and find out all there is to do and see in the Highlands and beyond."
It is estimated that over 40,000 people travel past the I-40 exit in Cookeville each day and that the Highlands area can benefit substantially from growing its visitor economic engine. This new regional visitor center promises to aid in that growth.
The Highlands Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 9:00AM – 5:00PM at 470-A Neal Street across from Cookeville Mall. For more information about the Highlands Visitor Center, call 931-525-1575 or e-mail Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TTR Announces 2009 CTTP College
The Tennessee Tourism Roundtable (TTR) has announced that the 2009 Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional (CTTP) College will be held May 6-8 in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee (located just east of Nashville.)
The CTTP designation is recognized as a symbol of excellence and leadership within Tennessee’s tourism and hospitality industries, and has been developed to assist individuals working in those industries to acquire and/or enhance professional-level industry-related education, develop a broader knowledge of the tourism industry in the state and of the resources available to assist them in the performance of their job responsibilities, and to develop a new network of professional contacts in the Tennessee tourism industry.
The CTTP program is sponsored by the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable and is administered in partnership with the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute. The CTTP program is underwritten by Miles Media, publisher of the official Tennessee Vacation Guide.
This year’s College will be held at the Hampton Inn and Suites located at the exciting new “Providence” dining, shopping, entertainment, and lodging development in Mt. Juliet. Special CTTP College rates will be available at the Hampton Inn for participants.
Tuition for the CTTP College is $350.00. Participants in this year’s college will receive a $75.00 discount on their registration costs for the 2009 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which will be held September 16-18 in Murfreesboro.
Complete information on the CTTP program and this year’s College, including program requirements, registration materials, lodging information, and tuition scholarships can be found on the TTR Web site.
STS Marketing College
For Tennessee tourism professionals interested in pursuing educational opportunities, scholarship applications are now available. The deadline for application submission is April 1, 2009. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, together with Official Tennessee Vacation Guide publisher Miles Media, will be offering two full scholarships to the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) Marketing College to tourism marketing professionals in the state of Tennessee.
“We encourage everyone involved in Tennessee tourism to participate in the STS educational programs available. This is a great chance for some of our industry partners to participate in this wonderful program and become even better at the business of tourism. The tourism industry is very competitive and continuing education is important for destinations to compete in the global market,” states Commissioner Susan Whitaker.
“STS is delighted to be working in partnership with Miles Media and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. We commend both of these partners for their encouragement and commitment to the continuing education of employees in the travel and tourism industry,” acknowledged Bill Hardeman, STS President and CEO.
Scott Templeton, Miles Media’s 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." Miles Media is also offering the STS scholarship program in the states of Florida, West Virginia, and Louisiana.
The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast United States. From July 26 - 31, 2009, 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 U.S. who not only bring expertise, but real-world knowledge and experience, to the classroom.
The STS Marketing scholarships will be awarded to two Tennessee tourism professionals and cover tuition, accommodations and most meals for the 2009 session. The scholarships will be granted based on criteria established by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (TACVB) in cooperation with Miles Media and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development which will encompass professional aptitude and future career goals in the tourism industry.
For the STS application visit www.milesmedia.com/STS/ or contact Mary.Steadman@MilesMedia.com or Abbie.Gristy@MilesMedia.com to request an application. For more information on STS Marketing College visit http://www.southeasttourism.org/education/
Facts & Trends
Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
National Park Leads in Economic Impact
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park continued to generate far more visitor spending than any of the other 390 units in the National Park System. The latest economic impact analysis of visitor spending habits estimated that the 9.4 million visitors in 2007 spent more than $718 million within 50 miles of the Park in North Carolina and Tennessee communities. Expenditures included such amenities as meals, lodging, gas, and amusements. The study also estimated that over 13,000 local jobs were supported by visitor spending as a direct result of the Park’s presence and operation.
Knoxville Unveils TouchKnow&Go
Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation (KTSC) has launched its new network of concierge kiosks to assist visitors and residents in the city. With just a push of the screen, TouchKnow&Go suggests opportunities for dining, lodging, playing golf, shopping, enjoying a family friendly activity or just taking a walk, among many other activities. The kiosks are located inside and outside the Knoxville Visitor Center, in the Knoxville Convention Center and in the Market Square District downtown. The TouchKnow&Go system also has a mobile version and an online component at www.TouchKnowandGo.com. Officials at KTSC say that this system is the first of its kind not only in Knoxville, but in the entire state of Tennessee.
Let’s Go Plateau!
The Alliance for the Cumberlands recently launched a regional branding initiative for the state’s 21 counties that neighbor the Cumberland Mountains. Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau showcases the region’s eco and heritage resources ranging from the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and the story of Daniel Boone, to the Walls of Jericho State Natural Area, from the Chickamauga Battlefield National Historic Park to Dale Hollow Lake, from the highest waterfall in the Eastern US at Fall Creek Falls State Park to the rapids of the Obed National Wild and Scenic River, and all the stories and sites in between.
A new Web site, LetsGoPlateau.com provides vacation planners an abundance of information about Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau and links to the attractions and counties within the region. Funding was provided from the Economic Development Administration.
Huge Hike in Numbers for Wilderness Wildlife Week
The 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) has just begun, and one Pigeon Forge event has already reaped the benefits. During the week of January 10-17, the city’s 19th Annual Wilderness Wildlife Week tallied a cumulative attendance of more than 25,300 in almost 300 classes, presentations, musical programs, hikes and excursions. The numbers reflect a significant increase from the more than 20,000 people who participated the year before. In 1990, the first event drew approximately 60 participants.
“Wilderness Wildlife Week was the first big public event on the official calendar of GSMNP’s 75th anniversary, and it was a real hit,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. The national park¹s anniversary is one reason cumulative attendance exceeded last year’s numbers, according to Downey.
The Jan. 10-17 event was a salute to the national park and related outdoor and environmental topics. It included 47 hikes, which attracted 1,006 hikers. The hikers chalked up 4,656 miles on trails in GSMNP.
More than 150 outdoor experts, musicians, photographers and National Park Service personnel donated their time to conduct Wilderness Wildlife Week activities. Also, more than 70 area residents volunteered their time. Dates for the 20th annual Wilderness Wildlife Week in 2010 are Jan. 9-16.
Southwest Airlines Founder Herbert D. Kelleher To Be Honored at TravelCom
Southwest Airlines Founder and Chairman Emeritus Herbert D. Kelleher will be presented with the Second Annual Steve Fossett Innovation Award at the U.S. Travel Association’s TravelCom’09 to be held March 31 to April 2 in Atlanta.
The only eCommerce and distribution conference designed for and by the travel industry, this year’s TravelCom program is a who’s who of travel industry leaders. To register go to www.ustravel.org/travelcom.
On April 1st, Kelleher will receive the Steve Fossett Innovation Award, which recognizes a worldwide travel industry leader who has broken new ground, pushed boundaries and revolutionized the industry, leaving a legacy of long-lasting change.Joining Kelleher in the speaker line up are the newly named OTA Presidents—Barney Harford of Orbitz Worldwide and Hugh Jones of Travelocity Global along with more than 30 other senior leaders representing travel’s most recognizable brands, such as Google, Kayak, Sabre, United Airlines, the Hertz Corp., TripAdvisor, Forrester Research and many others. Visit www.ustravel.org/travelcom for more information.
Sustainable Tourism Workshops
Hospitality and Lodging Partners Targeted in Upcoming Workshops
Five sustainable tourism workshops have been scheduled for business and community stakeholders across West and Middle Tennessee in 2009. Each workshop is free and will provide best practices in managing energy, air, water and waste while greening your bottom line at the same time! The benefits of sustaining the culture and heritage of our state will also be highlighted. Planners promise to showcase applicable sustainable tourism practices which will allow Tennessee communities and businesses to become more focused, more strategic and more successful. The first workshop will be May 14, from 10:00AM -3:30PM at The Factory in Franklin. Other workshops will follow in Baxter (June 16), Murfreesboro (September 17), Jackson (November 16) and Memphis (November 17). Admission is free, but registration is required due to limited seating. RSVP to Patricia.Gray@state.tn.us or call 615-741-9004.The five events are cosponsored by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. For more information about upcoming workshops, direct your inquiries Patricia Gray or to Lee.Curtis@state.tn.us or call 615-741-9045.
Tennessee Preservation Trust Statewide Preservation Conference and Main Street Summit
“Preserving Our Shared Cultural Heritage”
Hosted by the Tennessee Preservation Trust in conjunction with the Tennessee Main
Street Program and the Tennessee Cultural Heritage Preservation Society. It will be held on the historic
Murfreesboro Square with sessions taking place in the Rutherford County Courthouse and in the new Heritage
Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County. Guided tours of the square, the Rutherford County
Courthouse, the Childress House, Cemetery School, Bradley Academy, and Oaklands will also be available. The
Friday Night gala and auction known as the “Rafter Raiser” will be held at Oaklands Historic House Museum.
The Tennessee Historical Commission, the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, and the Center for
Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University recognize the tremendous educational opportunity of
a statewide preservation conference and are providing generous sponsorship and organizational support.
Planned session and tour topics include:
Tennessee Civil War Trails Program
Civil War Battlefield Preservation
Downtown Revitalization Best Practices
Technology Tools for Heritage Organizations
Murfreesboro Main Street Story
Tennessee State Heritage Areas
Mark your calendar and make plans to attend. For more information contact the TPT office at (615) 963-1255 or go to the TPT Web site at www.tennesseepreservationtrust.org.
Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is inviting Tennesseans to submit nominations for the Governor's 2009 Environmental Stewardship Awards. which recognizes Tennesseans who go above and beyond to protect the state's diverse environment. The Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards are the most prestigious environmental and conservation awards in the state. For over 20 years, the awards have been presented to individuals and organizations that make great contributions to the conservation of our wildlife and related natural resources, the natural elements upon which all life depends.
The purpose of the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards is to recognize outstanding achievements by individuals, businesses, organizations, educational institutions, and agencies for successful environmental projects and conservation measures. Also to promote leadership by example and in turn increase conservation of the natural resources of the State of Tennessee – its wildlife, forests, soils, water, natural heritage, parks and recreation, and air. The awards are designed to bring about a greater knowledge and awareness of environmental and conservation practices and projects, and to give proper recognition to those persons and organizations that make outstanding contributions to the natural resource welfare of their community and the state.
The deadline for nominations is March 31. Award recipients will be announced in May. Visit the Web site at www.tn.gov/environment/awards for more information about about categories, judging criteria and nomination forms.
Employee of the Month
The Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for February 2009 is Don Townsend, Building Maintenance Worker II at the I-65 Robertson County (Mitchellville) Welcome Center. Don had an immediate impact on the Welcome Center staff. He started work with the Department of Tourist Development in November of 2007.
"Don is a good person to work with," said Mitchellville Welcome Center Manager Sherry Prochaska. "He tries to make everything neat and easy for everyone, and never complains about anything. He gets along with everybody and does a great job. When I am not there he keeps everything at the Center running smoothly. Don also has a great sense of humor, and is always making us laugh."
"It takes everyone pulling together as a team to make the Welcome Center run smoothly," Don said.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Takes Top Award
Jim Pattison Jr., president of Ripley Entertainment Inc., accepted a trophy from TripAdvisor.com on behalf of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies being named the top U.S. aquarium. “This is a very momentous occasion,” said Pattison “I can’t tell you how important this award is to our company. This is a world-class aquarium and we’re very proud of it.” Robin Ingle, TripAdvisor’s senior vice president, was on hand to present the award.
Cookeville-Putnam County CVB Launches New Web Site
Cookeville-Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau has tackled and answered the question of how do we convey all of the areas special features to the rest of the world. The answer is www.MustSeeCookeville.com, a new Web site they have launched to show everyone what makes this little part of Tennessee special. With eye-catching graphics and an engaging format, the interactive "Must-See Cookeville" Web site includes slide shows and listings of Cookeville's manyattractions, including shopping, dining, lodging, parks, arts venues, historical sites, festivals and other events.
America's Top 10 Value Cities for Couples
DIRECTIONS Travel Performance/Monitor, lists Nashville as #4 among U.S. cities for providing the best value for the money. A common thread among these cities that make the top 10 value list is their significant offering of free or nearly free cultural exhibits, galleries, walking tours, and reasonably priced dining.
International Storytelling Center, Jonesborough
Grant For Storytelling Center
U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, announced $52,500 in grant funding for the Jonesborough International Storytelling Center Online Network. The matching grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is to be matched by the same amount from local sources, for a total of $105,000. This funding will help the Jonesborough International Storytelling Center upgrade its Web site and improve its e-commerce capabilities.
TN Motorcoach Association Selects “Associate and Rookie Of The Year"
Congratulations to Lisa Catron, Memphis CVB, who was awarded Associate of the Year by TN Motorcoach Association. Kristi Driver, TDTD Sales Manager was awarded Rookie of the Year.
Children’s Museum of Memphis
The Children’s Museum of Memphis Introduces New Web Site
A brand-new, professionally designed, updated Web site for The Children’s Museum of Memphis launched on February 12, 2009. The address for the site is CMOM.COM – the same address the museum has had since 1996. The primary enhancements including making the site more user-friendly and fun. The site is the museum’s #1 source of information and will brand the museum for all its future marketing efforts.
Pigeon Forge Wins Emmy Award Third Year In A Row
The Pigeon Forge Department of Tourisms television commercials have won an Emmy Award for the third year in a row.
An animated 30-second Pigeon Forge spot, produced by BOHAN Advertising|Marketing in Nashville, has won an Emmy from the Nashville/Midsouth Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in the commercial spot category. The agency, which produced the tourism department¹s two previous Emmy winners, believes it is the first fully animated spot promoting a tourism destination.
Pickwick State Park
Tennessee Wins Big in the 2009 ConventionSouth Magazine's Reader's Choice Awards.
The winners were chosen based on the number of nominations and the detailed comments made by the readers. Nominations were made for the best meetings destination, convention centers, hotels and other venues. The four sites awarded in Tennessee were:
1) Hardin County CVB (Savannah)
2) Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (Nashville)
3) The Peabody (Memphis)
4) Pickwick Landing State Park Inn & Conference Center (Pickwick Dam)
Southeast Festivals & Events Announces 2009 Kaleidoscope Award Winners
The Annual Southeast Festivals & Events Conference held in Knoxville TN was pure Gold, Silver and Bronze for many Tennessee festivals and events. During the awards program, top festivals & events throughout the southeast were recognized for their outstanding contribution to the festivals and events industry by receiving the prestigious Kaleidoscope Award.
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, Smoky Mountain Storytelling Festival, “Youth Storytelling Showcase"
Kingsport Fun Fest, “Crazy 8’s”
City of Gatlinburg Special Events, Gatlinburg’s “Ribfest & Wings”
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, A Mountain Quiltfest
City of Oak Ridge, Mike Bradshaw
City of Winchester, Brenda Long
City of Gatlinburg Special Events
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, Pigeon Forge Winterfest (2)
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, A Mountain Quiltfest, “Every Stitch Tells a Story”
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, Saddle Up! Celebration
City of Winchester, International Dogwood Festival
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, AppalachiaFest
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, Dolly Homecoming Parade
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, Wilderness Wildlife Week (2)
City of Winchester
Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events, Quiltfest
Kingsport Fun Fest (2)
City of Winchester, International Dogwood Festival, Winchester Utilities
City of Winchester, Hannah Express
City of Winchester, Festival Exchange Program
City of Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg’s Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
Quote of the Month:
"If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied."
- Alfred Nobel
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You