Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents March 2010 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

I can feel it in the air – it’s definitely time for spring tourism! This colder-than-normal winter has contributed to some serious cabin fever in many of our feeder markets, so we should be getting ready for some happy road warriors coming to town in Tennessee.  The Department of Tourist Development stands ready and willing to help you get the word out about everything your tourism-related business has to offer, so don’t forget to take advantage of all the marketing programs and partnerships available for your participation right now.

One of those programs is this year’s Tennessee Sampler. It has been re-vamped and positioned as the 2010 Tennessee Sampler Express, taking place March 9-11.  In order to maximize time and economic resources, the Express will use a “road trip” format with six different regional routes. Sales calls and public relations meetings have been scheduled for each route with tour operators, AAA offices, and a variety of media outlets. The Sampler Express promises to be an extremely productive three days for tourism business. I hope you are making plans to participate.

We are continuing to lay track in front of that speeding locomotive called the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways initiative. Many thanks to all of you who are contributing to the formation of these important trails and providing crucial input on how to put them together. We will be keeping you updated on what’s happening throughout the state. Marketing-wise, the TV campaign with Rascal Flatts is in final edit and we were very excited to learn last week that our new Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Web site  earned a Gold Addy! What a team!

Thanks to the wonderful efforts of Commissioner Gerald Nicely and the Department of Transportation, we are pleased to announce the opening of our 14th
Welcome Center in Unicoi County on I-26
One new partnership we have entered into is the Tennessee Farmland Legacy Partnership. State agencies, including tourism and non-profits, solidified their commitment to preserving the state’s farmland by forming this partnership.  It will serve as an authoritative resource for both farm level and community planning that promotes the preservation and viability of working farms in Tennessee. We all know how important our beautiful landscapes are to the experience of our travelers. Preserving farm viewsheds will contribute to the preservation of that experience as well as the quality of life for all Tennesseans.

Thanks to the wonderful efforts of Commissioner Gerald Nicely and the Department of Transportation, we are pleased to announce the opening of our 14th Welcome Center in Unicoi County on I-26. A grand opening is planned for National Tourism Week in May. Our Welcome Centers serve as an excellent first experience and front door of hospitality for more than 15 million people every year. Many thanks to Welcome Center Director Barry Young and his talented team for their dedication and great work on behalf of tourism.

On a special note, we are delighted to have the Southeast Tourism Society Spring Meeting in Nashville this year, on March 22-24, at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. The theme of the conference is especially pertinent to our current economic environment: Refresh, Renew and Recharge.  I look forward to seeing many of you there.

I hope that each of you has the opportunity to refresh and recharge as we head into the biggest tourism months of the year. Thank you for ensuring that our visitors all have an experience that is second to none. It is a privilege to work alongside you!

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Tourism Joins Groups to Preserve Tennessee Farmland

Members of Tennessee state agencies and
non-profits join Governor Phil Bredesen during
the official signing of the Memorandum of
Understanding for the Tennessee Farmland
Legacy Partnership


The Tennessee Dept. of Tourist Development has joined with other state agencies and non-profits to solidify their commitment to preserving the state’s farmland by forming the Tennessee Farmland Legacy Partnership. The partnership will serve as an authoritative resource for both farm level and community planning that promotes the preservation and viability of working farms in Tennessee.

“I am pleased to see so many agencies and other groups committing to protecting Tennessee’s farms from development,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “Agriculture is an important part of our state’s economy. Healthy, productive farmland provides balance in our communities and contributes to our environment, scenic beauty and quality of life.”

The Tennessee Farmland Legacy Partnership seeks to raise awareness among farmers and other landowners, government officials including community planning and zoning officials, developers, business and civic leaders, media and citizens as to the values, needs and opportunities for farmland preservation in the state. The Partnership will also direct farmers and community officials to the technical and financial programs offered by organizations and agencies related to farmland protection. 

“We are proud to be among these groups working toward preserving farmland in Tennessee,” said Jeanie Nelson, president and executive director of The Land Trust for Tennessee. “The partnership is committed to providing farmers and community planners and leaders with the resources to help keep farms viable in Tennessee.”

“In Tennessee, we’re losing valuable farmland to development and other non-farm uses at a rate of 100,000 acres per year,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens. “Agriculture is a $3 billion industry at the farm level. This partnership is about giving farm families options for keeping their land in sustainable production for future generations.”

 “It is an honor for the Dept. of Tourist Development to be a part of this partnership.  Our Tennessee farmland provides beautiful scenic viewsheds, strengthen the vitality of the community and provide a wonderful experience for our traveling public,” said Commissioner Whitaker.


U.S. Travel Association TV Spot

U.S.Travel Association PSAs Available to Spread the Word

During the past year, the U.S. Travel Association has been actively engaged in advocating why travel matters, promoting its economic impact to policymakers and its impact on the bottom line to business leaders.

In an effort to assist in promoting the benefits of travel to individuals, the Travel Channel has partnered with the US Travel Association to produce four public service announcements that are now airing on their network as part of its schedule.

These PSAs are also available to the entire travel community to help spread the word about the benefits of travel for the health, education, creativity, job performance and general well-being of the industry. 

You may view the spots on the tnvacation.com multimedia site or http:www.youtube.com/user/TnVacation.   If you have not done so, consider incorporating these PSAs into your marketing and outreach activities.  You may download the spots, through the USTravel.org Web site in the Toolkits section.

Spring Break

Frist Center’s ArtQuest Gallery

The arrival of spring ushers in warmer weather, blooming flowers and exciting springtime events in Tennessee.

In West Tennessee, the “Harry’s Big Adventure: My Bug World!” exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Memphis gives visitors an up close and personal look at insects. The exhibit, running now through June 13, has three main goals: to foster a sense of wonder and fascination for the natural world and its bugs, to highlight the many different habitats and behaviors of bugs and to inspire outdoor play and discovery.

Enjoy the 2010 Peabody Rooftop Party season at The Peabody Memphis. Every Thursday night from April 16-Aug. 5 features live music from top local and regional entertainment acts, and an occasional performance from a national touring act.

In Middle Tennessee, the upper level of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts features the award-winning Martin ArtQuest Gallery, the Frist Center’s colorful interactive space. Often called the heart and soul of the Frist Center, this space is the perfect location for a family outing. And while in Nashville, don’t miss the Adventure Science Center’s Sudekum Planetarium.

The Nashville Children’s Theatre will host two special productions during spring break this year. Now through March 28, the theatre features “Miss Nelson is Missing.” Beginning April 13, the theatre features the timeless story, “Charlotte’s Web.” This long-time family classic will run through May 16.

In East Tennessee, Spring Break Safari in Chattanooga is anything but ordinary, offering vacationers a chance to be an animal keeper kid at the Tennessee Aquarium; a riverboat captain aboard the River Gorge Explorer; and a zookeeper at the Chattanooga City Zoo. The aquarium also offers on March 13-21 and April 3-11 the chance to become “Keeper Kids,” an event that gives kids and their family members a chance to go behind the scenes at the aquarium.

In Pigeon Forge, WonderWorks recently announced the addition of Master Magician Terry Evanswood, who will be performing matinee shows at 3 p.m. daily. WonderWorks also features fun and entertaining family shows throughout the day.

Civil War Trails Map Coming Soon

The first Tennessee Civil War Trails map-guide is scheduled to be delivered by the end of March.  This is the significant marketing piece for the Trails program, which will now be linked by this brochure with the five other states involved in the regional program:  Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and West Virginia.  For the first printing, the map will feature the 141 sites that are currently in the ground, and it will be updated every 18 months.

The map-guide will be distributed to all sites on the trails as well as all state welcome centers.  Furthermore, the guide can be downloaded from the website, www.CivilWarTrails.org, or by contacting the Department of Tourist Development at 615-741-2159.

In addition to the Civil War Trails news, the Web site developed for the 150th commemoration of the Civil War:  www.TNCivilWar150.com, has been well-received ranking #9 on Google results for keyword search “civil war sesquicentennial.”  The Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission, in conjunction with the Department of Tourist Development, has put together a wonderful Web site that will interest everyone from Civil War enthusiasts to elementary school students.  As the Sesquicentennial gets underway, this Web site will be a great portal for news, events, educational materials, and the Civil War Trails. 

For further information on either program, contact Noell Rembert at noell.rembert@tn.gov or 615-532-8077 or Lee Curtis at 615-741-9045 or lee.curtis@tn.gov.

Education Update

Students Participate in EEOG Career Fair

Legislative Plaza and War Memorial Auditorium were full of energetic high school students looking to broaden their horizons as they took part in the Nineth Annual Project Save-A-Student Leadership and Training Conference which was held February 10-12th  in Nashville. The three-days of business, motivational and leadership seminars are sponsored each year by the Education Equal Opportunity Group, Inc.

Glencliff High School parent
speaks to Derrick Smith
about tourism

The EEOG is focused on increasing the retention and graduation rates of students by exposing them to an array of marketable tools and practical resources that allow them to compete in today's marketplace.

George Thomas, Founder and President of EEOG, Inc., believes that students should envision success in order to be prepared for it.  "You have to believe in your vision and you must write your vision," explains Thomas.

 At this year's conference, themed “Get Connected! Plug In!,” students had the opportunity to hear outstanding speakers such as Representative John DeBerry, Decosta Jenkins, President & CEO of Nashville Electric Service and Lieutenant Colonel John S. Bommer Jr.  Also various booths, including the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, were on site distributing information on various career opportunities.  

Southeast Tourism Society Spring Meeting

Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville

Don’t Miss the Southeast Tourism Society Spring Meeting

Refresh.Renew.Recharge on March 22-24 at the 2010 Southeast Tourism Society’s (STS) Spring Meeting at the Loews Vanderbilt Plaza in Nashville.

As travel and tourism professionals from across the Southeast make their way to our beautiful state, we have the opportunity to showcase what makes Tennessee so special. Top industry leaders agree that now is the time to meet, examine our industry and prepare for the future. It’s time to come together in Nashville for the Three R’s: Refresh, Renew and Recharge.

Program highlights include Sustainable Tourism, Engaging the New Value Seekers, Working in Print, Tourism Funding, Research to Marketing and Economic Update, and the Impact on Travel Trends.

A special service project focuses on the Hermitage-Home of President Andrew Jackson.  Response is always immediate and enthusiastic for the STS volunteer projects.  You can spend a couple of hours Monday, March 22, working on the grounds of this historic location, while making new friends.  Lunch is added value for the volunteer service.

Other activities include a tour of Nashville and golfing at the Gaylord Springs Golf Links. Don’t hesitate, if you are interested in sponsoring a session, having a booth or for more information about registration go to www.southeasttourism.org.

Senate Passes Bipartisan Travel Promotion Act

By a bipartisan vote of 78 to 18, the Senate has passed the Travel Promotion Act, establishing the Corporation for Travel Promotion and creating a multi-million dollar, public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier travel destination.  The Corporation will work closely with the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security and State to develop a nationally coordinated, multi-channel marketing and communications program to attract more international visitors and explain changing travel security policies.

The travel promotion initiative is funded through a matching program featuring up to $100 million in private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers who do not pay $131 for a visa to enter the United States. The fee will be collected once every two years in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization. No money is provided by U.S. taxpayers. Research shows that international travel to the United States, especially from overseas origins, has suffered due to negative perceptions about travel processes following increased security reforms post 9/11. While international travel has boomed over the past decade, with 46 million more international travelers taking long-haul trips in 2009 than in 2000, the United States actually lost visitors, welcoming 2.4 million fewer overseas travelers than in 2000. According to independent analysis by Oxford Economics, the program could attract 1.6 million additional visitors from other countries and create more than $4 billion in consumer spending annually. The legislation, which passed the House in November, is expected to be signed into law by President Obama in the coming days.

For more information about the Travel Promotion Act, please visit www.poweroftravel.org or www.ustravel.org.

Facts & Trends

Family on Vacation

Moms Won't Deprive Families of Vacation This Year

In a national survey of moms planning 2010 vacations, 80 percent will make sacrifices to guarantee their family vacation this year.  Conducted in January 2010 by Nashville-based WhyMomsRule.com, the poll showed moms don’t want a repeat of vacation cutbacks many endured in 2009 and are willing to make trade-offs to afford vacations.

Most moms have determined their vacation schedules the survey revealed. Some 57 percent plan summer break vacations and 24 percent have targeted spring break, making spring break the second most active travel period.

To afford vacations, moms said they expect to eat out less during the year (42 percent), spend less on entertainment (33 percent) and forego major purchases (23 percent). To save while on vacation, many will seek less expensive destinations, stay shorter times and drive instead of fly.

When asked what they want different this year, one of the highest responses (29 percent) was “a place that keeps the whole family entertained.” Twenty-five percent wanted economical destinations that still have lots of activities, 25 percent wanted “a place we’ve never been” and 23 percent wanted a slower-paced place.

WhyMomsRule.com is a blog that tracks trends affecting moms and their buying habits. David Bohan, chairman and CEO of BOHAN Advertising|Marketing, and Jamie Dunham, BOHAN’s chief planning officer, created it.

March 22nd Deadline Approaching for Tourism Cares 2010 Scholarship Applicants


Each year, Tourism Cares awards up to $100,000 in scholarships to travel and tourism or hospitality students attending programs primarily in the U.S. and Canada. The current endowment Tourism Cares administers, which includes both the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and National Tour Association (NTA) Scholarship Funds, totals more than $1.7 million. The Tourism Cares scholarship awards help support educating the future workforce of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry, which is vitally important to maintaining a high level of professionalism in the industry.

Scholarship opportunities include academic, professional development, and service-learning scholarships. Additionally, all academic scholarship recipients are invited to participate in the Tourism Cares Experience the Industry Student Program at the NTA Convention held during the week of November 13, 2010 in Montréal, Québec, Canada. At the event, students shadow mentors, who are travel industry veterans, during business appointments; participate in discussions about career paths; and take advantage of networking and learning opportunities.

All application materials must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 22, 2010. Tourism Cares 2010 scholarships and internships will be announced in May to be applied to the Fall 2010 semester or term. Click here for more information.   

Direct Farm Marketing for Success Workshops Scheduled for Early March

Direct marketing of agricultural products from the farm to the consumer is a growing segment of agriculture in Tennessee.   According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, from 1997 to 2007, the state experienced a 33 percent increase in the number of farms involved in direct marketing and an 83.5 percent increase in the total value of agricultural products sold to consumers. In 2007, direct marketing accounted for more than $15 million in sales for Tennessee farms. 


Farmers who direct market products to consumers are invited to the third installment of the Direct Farm Marketing for Success Workshops. The workshops will be held in March 2010, in four locations throughout the state:  Jackson (March 2), Spring Hill (March 4), White Pine (March 10) and Cookeville (March 11). 

As a companion to the Direct Farm Marketing for Success workshop series, two tours of direct marketing operations will be conducted in March.  Information about tours and registration form are also available online.

The workshops and tours are being offered by the Center for Profitable Agriculture in cooperation with the Tennessee Farm Fresh program.  Contact Megan Bruch with questions at mlbruch@utk.edu or 931-486-2777. 

Welcome Center

I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Center

Tennessee Welcome Center Updates

February may be a short in the number of days, but it has been a very busy month for the Tennessee Welcome Centers.  While Mother Nature was busy working her winter magic, the Department of Tourist Development was busy making some changes. 

Tourist Development is happy to announce the opening of its newest Welcome Center!  The I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Center opened its doors to the visiting public in  February.  Located at Exit 46, which is only nine miles from the North Carolina State line, the new Center serves both sides of the interstate.  While being opened for only a short time, the Center has already been visited by travelers from as far away as Oregon.

Tourist Development is happy to announce the opening of its newest Welcome Center!  The I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Center opened its doors to the visiting public in February. Since October of 2008, construction crews have worked to build the new facility. 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. It's the perfect area to browse the many Tennessee attraction brochures featured in the new ADA- adherent brochure racks. In addition, the welcome center features a family assisted restroom and includes overall expanded restroom facilities.

A grand opening of the Unicoi Center is scheduled for the Spring.

As the doors were opening in Unicoi County, three Centers, the I-65 Robertson County (Mitchellville), I-65 Giles County (Ardmore) and I-24 Hamilton County (Tiftonia) locations, were closed to be replaced with new structures. Currently, temporary centers have been opened to serve travelers in each of the three locations. 

"We are very pleased that TDOT is in the process of updating several of our Welcome Center facilities.  These new Centers will feature a friendly and welcoming atmosphere as well as larger and more accommodating restrooms, including a family assisted restroom.  These new facilities should better serve our customers for years to come," said Barry Young, Director of Welcome Centers.

Tennessee's Welcome Centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and are operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

Temporary Welcome Center locations

I-65 Giles County (Ardmore) - 26032 Main Street, Ardmore, TN Mile Marker/exit #1, 1.8 Southbound

I-24 Hamilton County (Tiftonia) - Mile Marker 160 Eastbound

I-65 Robertson County (Mitchellville) - 301 Richard Wilks Road, Suite 1200 White House, TN Mile Marker /exit #108, Southbound

Employee of the Month - Stability pays off for Smith

James Smith has been with the Department of Tourist Development for more than 22 years.  One would say that shows a great amount of stability.  While serving Tennesseans and visitors during those years, Smith has also shared one of his talents with the Welcome Center that demonstrates his "stability."  Not only is James a very dedicated employee, he is also a master woodworker and has built cabinets and numerous brochure racks for the Welcome Center during the years.

James Smith

"I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with James," said Janice Rich, Ardmore Welcome Center Manager.

Creativity is a part of who James is.  A building maintenance worker at the I-65 Giles County (Ardmore) Welcome Center, he has been selected as February's Welcome Centers Employee of the Month. 

"James is willing to do what is asked of him with all of his maintenance duties, but he also has a special talent.  He is very creative and talented when it comes to building things and working with his hands," said Barry Young, Director of Welcome Centers. "Ardmore has just opened the temporary location (while a new Welcome Center is under construction) and he has been busy building a table to be used in the lobby."

Industry Applause

Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga

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

Tennessee Aquarium Receives National Medal

At a ceremony in Washington on Feb. 23, the Tennessee Aquarium received the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. The annual award, granted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services since 1994, recognizes institutions for outstanding social, educational, environmental or economic contributions to their communities. The Tennessee Aquarium is one of only four aquariums ever to receive the National Medal. Community service has always been the foundation of the Tennessee Aquarium’s mission to inspire wonder and appreciation for the natural world. For more than 17 years, the aquarium has had a dramatic impact on the area, measured by continuing successes in building the local economy through tourism and development, creating new environmental education opportunities and leading vital conservation efforts.


Knoxville Foundation Buys 1863 Battle Site

The Legacy Park Foundation of Knoxville recently purchased 70 acres of land where the Battle of Armstrong Hill took place on November 25, 1863. The non-profit foundation is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of key Knoxville historical and wilderness areas.  The organization plans to eventually turn the property over to the city park system. 


“I Am A Man” Wins Four Emmy Awards

"I Am a Man: From Memphis A Lesson in Life, " has received four 2010 Emmy Awards, from the Midsouth Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  The awards include Best Historical Documentary, Best Composer/Arranger, Best Directing, and Best Writing.  The documentary has been screened at more than 20 film festivals nationwide and received several first-place awards.  The award-winning documentary was produced by Runnning Pony Productions and Old Bridge media of Memphis and the Memphis Tourism Fundation, which served as its executive producer.

For more information and details on the awards, go to iamamanthemovie.com

Truckers Vote for Best Road in US

Over-the-road truckers have once again voted Interstate 40 in Tennessee the best stretch of highway in the country. It's the fourth straight year the section has been honored in a survey of truck owners and operators by Overdrive Magazine. Criteria for selection included road quality, smoothness of the riding surface, road markings and construction detour availability. Tennessee roads overall were rated third best in the country for the 11th straight year. 

Rivers & Spires Festival, Clarksville

Rivers & Spires to Make Major Recycling Effort

The Rivers & Spires Festival is going green this year. The eighth annual spring arts and entertainment festival in downtown Clarksville will strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Most importantly, efforts will be made to recycle all the paper, plastic and cardboard used. Bi-County Solid Waste Management and several Boy Scout troops will partner with the festival to help the recycling efforts and festival cleanup. In addition, an educational Green Zone will return to the festival for a second year to help teach residents how to recycle and conserve energy in their daily lives.

Tennessee Motorcoach Awards

For their outstanding contributions to the Tourism industry, the General Morgan Inn and Greene Coach Tours were recently named Associate of the Year and Tour Operator of the Year by the Tennessee Motor Coach Association. Russell and Sheila Ooten of Greene Coach Tours were also recognized for their significant contributions to the Tennessee Motorcoach Association. Greene Coach Tours, one of Tennessee’s oldest continuously operating coach companies, received the top honors as the Association’s Operator of the Year.

The Associate of the Year was awarded to Ginger Dugger, Director of Guest Services at the General Morgan Inn, for her efforts to work with Tour Operators and Planners visiting Northeast Tennessee.


Civil War Web site Results

Tennessee's new civil war Web site is #9 on Google results for keyword search "civil war sesquicentennial".  This is a significant placement, to be on the first page of results, with destinations like Virginia and North Carolina.

Destination King Winners

Destination King of Memphis was the big winner in the "Best Destination Marketing" category for the Association of Destination Management Executives Fourth Annual Achievement Awards given out  in Atlanta. They were selected for their work securing, planning and hosting the 2009 Global Events Partners Executive Summit.  Co-founder and COO Kevin Brewer has been elected ADME president for 2010-11.

Smith Receives Lifetime Award

Randell A. Smith, CEO and co-founder of Hendersonville, Tenn.-based STR, was presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in San Diego. Smith was recognized for his legacy in pioneering global hotel benchmarking, the foundation of the company he co-founded with his wife, Carolyn Smith.

Quote of the Month

"The world is a great book: he (she) who never stirs from home, reads only a page."

-Saint Augustine

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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