Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents September 2009 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Tourism Partners,

Just as September once heralded the start of my new school year, with all the excitement of seeing friends and taking new classes, September now means that it's Governor's Conference time, with a similar, happy anticipation of reconnecting with industry friends and participating in cutting-edge educational opportunities. Murfreesboro is definitely the place to be, September 16 -18!

It's not every state that has the honor of having both the President and CEO and the Senior VP of Research of the U.S. Travel Association at its Governor's Conference. We are so pleased to have both Roger Dow and Dr. Suzanne Cook coming to give us the latest on the state of the Tour and Travel Industry - where it's headed and what we need to know to be successful in the turbulent times ahead.

And that's just the start of what we'll learn this year. Our Super Seminar has the potential to revolutionize your business life with the latest tech-savvy information. Hannah Paramore of Paramore/Redd Online Marketing keeps ahead of the online marketing world with information and the latest applications. She will walk us through the process so that we too can become skilled Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr marketers.  This is applicable to us all, but especially important for those with limited advertising budgets looking for new marketing avenues.

When you do see me in Murfreesboro, I will be moving a bit slower than normal. In a dramatic running accident (well, actually I ran into a sofa while running for my cell phone), I broke my little toe. Now who would ever imagine that something as tiny as a pinkie toe could have such an impact on a person's balance, mobility, schedule and sense of style (whoever invents an attractive orthopedic boot deserves a special 'Runway' award from Heidi Klum)?

But sitting in the doctor's office at Vanderbilt, it occurred to me that this was a great object lesson in seeing how quickly things can get out of whack when things, even the smallest of things, are not working together as they should.  

Tourism organizations like ours thrive on healthy partnerships and collaboration - especially in times when money is tight and outside circumstances threaten to slow us down. There is simply no time to let internal 'breakdowns' of communication and cooperation hinder our progress. Instead, this is the time to recognize and embrace the value of coming together for the common goal of increasing economic success for our communities, our regions and this great state.

This fall we will be introducing a tremendous opportunity for maximizing our combined strengths through partnership marketing. You'll hear more about this at the Governor's Conference and in meetings across the state. This initiative promises to be one of the most innovative and effective catalysts for economic development Tennessee has ever seen - even during these challenging times. As you can tell, I am really excited about what this could mean for tourist development in every part of our state, metro and rural alike.

As you know, we have had a tremendous friend of tourism in Gov. Bredesen and look forward to his joining us at the Governor’s luncheon at the conference. This month, he highlighted Tourism in Tennessee in the Capitol Journal. Visit www.tennesseeanytime.org/governor/ to read a wonderful essay about our industry straight from the Governor’s pen.

I look forward to seeing you in Murfreesboro and participating with you in this special gathering of our tourism industry.

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker



Featured Articles:

Have You Reserved Your Free Simply Sustainable Lunch?

Glenn Haussmann

Time is running out to “lunch and learn” from a nationally recognized panel of sustainable tourism leaders during the Simply Sustainable seminar in Murfreesboro.  The event precedes the 2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 11:30 a.m.  Registrants and non-registrants to the Governor’s Conference are welcome.

Sustainable Tourism is defined as sustaining the environment, culture and heritage of a region while at the same time sustaining the economic growth through tourism.  Simply Sustainable brings to the stage a powerhouse line-up of national, state and local experts committed to lending their expertise to this important and ongoing dialogue on sustainable tourism.

Commissioner Susan Whitaker will begin the session with the latest update on the Sustainable Tourism initiative in Tennessee while Dr. Carroll Van West lays out the next steps for Tennessee communities.  West is executive director, MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Glenn Haussmann, editor-in-chief of Hotel Interactive, will moderate a panel of hospitality experts that includes:

   Ray Burger, founder and president of Pineapple Hospitality, Inc.
   Ray Hobbs, CHA, senior vice president of Kelco Management & Development
   Jennifer Holderied, director of marketing / owner of Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort
   Rauni Kew, director of marketing /PR at The Inn by the Sea
   Hugh Morrow, Jr., president of Ruby Falls, LLC

Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership has observed that consumers are definitely paying attention to those who are green, even in this down economy.  “Travel service suppliers should therefore continue to adopt green practices that have a minimum impact on consumers’ wallets,” says Yesawich.

Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel Association recently commented that “consumers are looking for ‘green travel’ choices at the right price.  The travel community has developed thousands of options and we are adding more daily.”

Sign up now and join us as we continue to unravel the mystery of how to create an affordable sustainable strategy that doesn’t have to break the bank.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 -11:30 a.m.
Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center, Murfreesboro

Admission is free; however reservations are a must, due to limited seating.  To RSVP for the Sustainable Tourism Seminar, please email Patricia Gray at patricia.gray@tn.gov or call 615-741-9004.

The stage is set for you and Sustainable Tourism.


Pace Cooper

Cooper Hotels Will Be First Hotels in Tennessee to Utilize Solar Power Technology

Executives of Memphis-based Cooper Hotels announced recently that two of the company’s hotels will be the first Tennessee hotels to utilize solar power.  Installation of the state-of-the-art solar thermal systems that will provide hot water is now underway at two East Tennessee locations:  Hilton Knoxville Airport and Doubletree Hotel Oak Ridge.  The announcement came during the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s Sustainable Tourism Seminar presented at the Tennessee Hospitality Association’s Annual Convention and Trade Show in Nashville.

“We are proud to be on the leading edge of sustainable tourism in Tennessee,” said Pace Cooper, Cooper Hotels’ president and CEO. “Our company has been committed to sustainability for years, with all five of our Florida hotels earning “green” designations by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.”

The energy systems are emissions free and completely silent while producing energy to provide almost 2,000 gallons of hot water per day.

Cooper Hotels plans to further increase its sustainability efforts to comprehensively involve all ten of the company’s Tennessee hotels going forward.  Mr. Cooper also plans to encourage all Tennessee hotel owners to participate in environmental programs and to tout the financial benefits of operating sustainable hotels with clean energy technologies. The federal government and the State of Tennessee offer a combination of tax credits, incentives and grants for companies converting to solar energy.

Cooper’s portfolio consists of 22 hotels in seven states.  Cooper Hotels is the largest multi-unit operator of Tennessee hotels.  For more information visit www.cooperhotels.com.

2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism

The 2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held Sept. 16 – 18, 2009 in Murfreesboro at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center. This year’s theme is, “Tennessee Tourism: Getting to the Heart of the Matter.”

President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, Roger Dow, will deliver the convention’s keynote address on the power of travel. Senior Vice President of Research, U.S. Travel Association, Suzanne Cook. Gov. Phil Bredesen will conclude the conference with his speech at Friday’s luncheon. 

“Having Roger Dow and Dr. Suzanne Cook at our conference this year speaks to the quality of this, our industry’s most important annual event.” said Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker.  “Governor’s conference is a time to celebrate the past year’s successes and get inspired and excited about the future. This year’s program will accomplish this and then some.”

Oaklands Historic House Museum, Murfreesboro

The Conference is hosted by Murfreesboro/Rutherford County including a special evening at Oaklands Historic House Museum. Guests will not only learn of the story of Oaklands, but will also be able to hear the stirring stories of Stones River National Battlefield and the Historic Sam Davis Home.  Ladies dressed in period attire, Civil War re-enactors, mansion tours, music, food and entertainment will all make for a memorable event.

Even with all the exciting programs and activities being offered at this year’s conference, the registration fee has been lowered to $259. This includes all educational and general session programs, materials, Tourism Expo admission, and all meals excluding the Thursday night dine around.

The conference is open to all tourism industry partners. For information, including the schedule of events and registration details, please visit the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable’s Web site at www.tenntourismroundtable.com or call (615) 734-9380.

Greeneville Dedicates Six Civil War Trails Markers

Local and state officials celebrate the Civil War
Marker installation at Tusculum College

There were 18 Civil War Trails markers installed in Tennessee during the week of August 24.  The installations took place in Loudon, Monroe, Cumberland, Sumner, Montgomery, Dickson, and Claiborne counties.  This brings the total to 83, with the Department anticipating more than 100 markers to be installed by the end of 2009. 

In early August, officials in Greeneville dedicated six Civil War Trails markers.

The first dedication took place at Tusculum College, which is the site of the President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library.  Speakers at the unveiling included Sen. Steve Southerland, Rep. David Hawk, Rep. Eddie Yokley; Dr. Van West, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area; Tammy Kinser, Greene County Partnership; George Collins, President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library; Harold Martin, Tennessee Department of Transportation; and Ken Bailey, General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge and Chamber of Commerce volunteer.

Following the first dedication, attendees boarded a Greene Coach to visit the other five markers and hear local historians recount Civil War stories related to each site.  In Greene County, historical markers are placed at Tusculum College, the Railroad Depot, Harmon Cemetery on Pottertown Road, in front of the Food Country in Mosheim, and two markers are located in front of the Dickson-Williams Mansion.

With the installation of six markers in Greene County, the area has the second most markers of any county in the state.  Williamson County holds first place with 14 markers.

The Civil War Trails program is a multi-state recognition initiative with partnerships established in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.  The program brings awareness to the state’s role in the Civil War and serves as a prelude to the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War which will begin in 2011.  The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development was awarded a two-part federal enhancement grant of more than a million dollars from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  The grant provides for an 80/20 match for local participation.

For further information, contact Noell Rembert at noell.rembert@tn.gov or 615-532-8077.

Facts and Trends

Survey Says!!  U.S. Adults Intend To Travel

The travel intentions of U.S. adults appear to be on the rise, according to the latest travelhorizons™ survey, the national survey co-authored quarterly by Ypartnership and U.S. Travel Association. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. adults expect to take at least one trip for leisure purposes between August 2009 and January 2010, up from 61 percent who expressed the same intention in July 2008. Assuming Americans act on their stated intention, this will translate into an estimated 142 million U.S. adults taking at least one overnight trip during the next six months.

“Americans continued strong interest in travel and positive perceptions of its affordability are positive signs for the industry,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “The cost of travel remains at historic lows, giving consumers phenomenal options and the opportunity to stretch their dollars farther.”   Dow will present the keynote address at the Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Friday, September 18 in Murfreesboro.

According to the national survey of 2,362 respondents conducted between July 21-28, 2009, the average number of overnight trips U.S. adults intend to take during the next six months increased to 2.8 from 2.6 in July 2008. Travelers remained concerned about having sufficient money for travel. However, the majority of adults who are planning to take a trip are adjusting to reduced travel budgets, indicating they expect to spend less on travel services this year. They also intend to comparison shop for deals, especially online.

Tourists at Dogwood Arts Festival, Knoxville

New Study on African American Travel

A ground-breaking study to gain more insights about African American travelers is being planned.  The study will segment the market, identify African American travelers' interests, and measure propensity to visit destinations that reflect and preserve African American heritage.  Sponsors can submit proprietary questions.  The study is being conducted by the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism Marketing Council and Mandala Research.  For more information contact laura@MandalaResearch.com

Lifeline and Link-Up

Phone Assistance Available for Those in Need

September 14-20 has been established as National Lifeline and Link Up Telephone Discount Awareness Week. Lifeline and Link-Up are low-income support programs, which ensure that quality telephone services are available to low-income consumers at affordable rates. These programs provide for discounts to low-income households for both the initial installation (Link-Up) and monthly phone bills (Lifeline) toward Local service.

During the week of September 14 -20, state utility commissioners, including the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and consumer advocates, will be calling attention to the availability of these programs to ensure that more eligible consumers understand that this valuable assistance is available.

To apply based on program participation call your local telephone company or to apply based on total household income call the Tennessee Regulatory Authority at 800-342-8359. www.state.tn.us/tra/consumerfiles/llluapp.pdf

Welcome Center

Jellico Welcome Center

Welcome Center Grand Opening at Jellico

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Transportation will host a Grand Opening and Media Event at Tennessee's newly completed I-75 Welcome Center in Jellico, Monday, September 28 at 1 p.m.

Both Commissioners Gerald Nicely and Susan Whitaker will be on hand for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Welcome Center.  Designed as a log cabin and featuring 4,976 square feet, the facility combines the warmth of Tennessee with the modern advantage of new construction.


Welcome Center Employee of the Month

Michael O'Donnell

Just hearing Michael's voice and one can tell he enjoys helping others.  His joy and excitement are key factors in Michael being named employee of the month for August.  With more than seven years of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development experience, Michael O'Donnell of the Smith County Welcome Center, takes pride in assisting those that visit our wonderful state.

For three years, Michael served as a building maintenance worker on second shift.  After 6 pm, while he was working throughout the grounds of the Center as the only uniformed employee on duty, visitors would ask him a variety of questions concerning the attractions and lodging.   Michael would give as much information as possible and later check with the Welcome Center Assistants to see how he faired. 

Eventually these evening encounters with travelers lead Michael to take a position as a Welcome Center Assistant.  About four years ago he moved behind the counter to assist guests. Why the change?  Michael says, "It gives me joy to explain to visitors where and how they can have fun in our great state. I'm excited for them and my excitement becomes contagious."

Currently, Michael is one of only two male Welcome Center Assistants with the TDTD.

Industry Applause

World’s Longest Yard Sale, Highway 127

Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.

World’s Longest Yard Sale Garners National Media Coverage
The World’s Longest Yard Sale, headquartered at the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce in Jamestown, is now in its 22nd year. This year’s event garnered national media attention from some of the country’s most prominent media outlets including CNN News Report, The New York Times, Oprah Radio, and Time’s photo essay at the link: www.time.com/time/photogallery/


Nashville Lawn & Garden Show

Nashville Lawn & Garden Show Named Top 20 Event
The 21st anniversary presentation of the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, which will be held March 4-7, 2010, has been named a Top 20 Event for winter 2010 by the South East Tourism Society. The Nashville Lawn and Garden Show, Tennessee’s premier horticultural event, annually attracts more than 22,000 people and is one of the largest gardening shows in the South.

Community Works on Plan for Sustainable Tourism
Unicoi County community leaders are working on a plan to make sustainable tourism a reality.  A $50,000 Appalachian Regional Grant, received last year, will aid in a series of workshops that leaders and businesses can use to grow tourism locally. This initiative involves community organizations and businesses that use the natural beauty of Unicoi County to create lasting and self-sustaining avenues that will attract vacationers time and time again.

Hale Springs Inn, Rogersville

Hale Springs Inn Holds Grand Opening Celebration
Dozens of people were on hand for the ribbon cutting and official grand opening celebration of the Hale Springs Inn and McKinney’s Fine Dining and Tavern in Rogersville. Built in 1824, all three U. S. presidents from Tennessee stayed there and it had a significant role during the American Civil War.   The multi-million dollar renovation and restoration project to return the Inn to its original grandeur, was a partnership between the Town of Rogersville and the Rogersville Heritage Association and grant funds from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Site for VW Plant's Welcome Center
A 20-acre tract near Interstate 75 has been identified as the prime spot for Volkswagen's new welcome center. The site sits on the northwest corner of the I-75 interchange and a new road will be built entering Enterprise South industrial park leading to the $1 billion VW factory.


Nashville Public Television Receives National Award
Nashville Public Television has received the My Source Community Impact Award for Engagement from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for the station’s Next Door Neighbors project.  The award was created by CPB to give well-deserved recognition to public television and radio stations for their commitment and responsiveness to their communities, providing innovative services –on-air, online and on the ground-with measurable results and benefits to the community.

Tipton County Featured in Movie
Watch that silver screen because Tipton County could soon make an appearance.  Memphis writer and director John Holiday was inside Covington's Ruffin Theater Sunday, shooting for his new movie called Angel of Mercy.  Angel of Mercy was also written by Holiday.


USA Today and National Geographic Choose Rock City and the Grand Ole Opry
Rock City Gardens and the Grand Ole Opry has been named as one of America’s top 10 great pastimes by USA Today. This comes after being listed in National Geographic’s book USA 101: A Guide to America’s Iconic Places, Events, and Festivals by Gary McKechnie.

Quote of the Month
What you do may seem insignificant but its important that you do it.
- Mahatma Gandhi


Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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