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

Dear Colleagues,

Where do I start? The 2010 Governor's Conference on Tourism was simply spectacular - and a tribute to months of hard work by many people. The venue was superb, living up to the MeadowView Marriott Conference Center and Resort's well-earned reputation for hosting successful events with outstanding hospitality. The staff's salute to all of us as we left the Governor's luncheon was such an unexpected and special touch!

Special thanks and recognition of their important roles in making this Conference such a success go to Claudia Moody and Jud Teague who led the hard-working host committee efforts. The speakers and professional development sessions were excellent, and the net-working opportunities truly memorable and fun! I would also like to recognize the dedicated efforts of Assistant Commissioner Phyllis Qualls-Brooks who served as our department's liaison for the conference and Marty Marbry, who served on the host committee and suggested our wonderful opening keynote speaker Jeanne Robertson - what a great way to start things out on the "Sunny Side of Tourism"!

My personal, special thanks to John Whisenant, Executive Director of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, for all he has done this year to keep TTR moving forward during a crucial time of change and strategic planning - on top of planning this Conference! Well done, John. We all appreciate your leadership, your professionalism and your signature 'southern-gentleman calm' that pervades everything you do. It is a pleasure working with you!

The Gubernatorial Forum was a significant event that gave the industry an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of what we do. We certainly appreciate both of the candidates, Mayor Bill Haslam and Mike McWherter, for their participation and enthusiastic support of the Tour and Travel Industry. Thanks to Jennifer Spence for producing the new video that gave CEO's from all types of Tennessee businesses the opportunity to talk about the crucial impact of tourism on their industries, communities and the entire state's economic health. Its message was loud and clear to everyone who watched it, and it will be available for our tourism partners to use when making the case for their funding and inclusion in local economic planning.

Thank you for letting me do this for eight years The Governor's Conference on Tourism was once again honored to have the Governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, address us at the Friday luncheon. This was the eighth time Governor Bredesen has attended, never missing a one during his entire term of office, and I am personally grateful for his enormous and consistent support for the department and the entire industry. I am obviously not alone in my gratitude as the Governor quickly found out during the luncheon. Although none of us could top Dolly Parton's singing tribute, it was obvious he thoroughly enjoyed the remarks and outpouring of appreciation that he received that day. Thank you, Governor Bredesen!

On a personal note, I was 'blown away' by the breakfast salute on Friday morning. The videos were hilarious, the personal remarks very kind and, as if you hadn't already touched my heart in a hundred ways during the conference, the video of my grandsons about did me in. Thank you for letting me do this for eight years - representing you and this wonderful State in which we are blessed to live has been an unsurpassed honor I will never forget.

Tough economic times and major challenges have only served to make this industry dig down deeper, driving us to new creativity and a dogged determination to succeed. Hats off to each of you who are so dedicated and committed to keeping this industry the power house economic driver that it is!  Thank you for a great conference and a wonderful opportunity to spend time with you.


Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

2010 Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Governor Phil Bredesen

Tennessee Tourism Remains in Top 10 Ranking for Third Consecutive Year

The 2010 Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held Sept. 22-24 in Kingsport, Tenn. at the Marriott MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center. The conference, with the theme of “The Sunny Side of Tourism,” was presented in partnership with the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, a statewide association uniting the various stakeholders involved in the tourism industry.

Governor Phil Bredesen addressed an audience of tourism professionals with an encouraging and supportive speech to the industry. “Even during tough economic times, Tennessee has held its top 10 ranking for domestic visitation for the past three years,” said Governor Bredesen. “This is an accomplishment that reflects the hard work and dedication of the entire industry.”

This is an accomplishment that reflects the hard work and dedication of the entire industry During the eight years of Governor Bredesen’s administration, Tennessee’s travel and tourism industry has experienced tremendous growth with a cumulative increase of $2.6 billion. For the past four years, Tennessee’s tour and travel industry has contributed $1 billion annually in state and local sales tax revenues.

Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker presented her annual state of the industry address before the Governor’s speech, including an announcement of the latest U.S. Travel Association numbers. For 2009, tourism in Tennessee brought $13.3 billion in direct economic impact to the state, employing more than 175,000 Tennesseans.

Also during the event, the Northeast Tennessee Governor’s Conference host committee showcased the region with special events at two of the state’s popular tourism attractions, The Gray Fossil Site and Museum and Bristol Motor Speedway. Additional highlights of this year’s conference included special recognition to Governor Bredesen for his eight years of service, as well as a special tribute to Commissioner Whitaker for her leadership in tourism during the Bredesen administration.

Award-winning speaker Jeanne Robertson delivered the convention’s keynote address on the funny side of tourism. Jeanne is past president of the National Speakers Association and was the first woman to win NSA's top honor, the Cavett Award. Lori Cogan, senior vice president of The Tombras Group and Sylvia Matiko, co-founder of A Different View, presented the Tourism Marketing Super Seminar, “Creating Experiences that Connect with Millenials,” on opening day.

Multiple Awards Presented At 2010 Governor’s Conference

Calvin Taylor and Claudia Moody

The Knight of the Roundtable Award is the highest award presented by the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable. Calvin Taylor, vice president of government relations for the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau was presented with the award in recognition of his outstanding contributions of leadership, service and professionalism to the Tennessee tourism industry. Taylor works closely with state government, city officials and the local hospitality industry in enhancing the development and growth of Memphis tourism. In addition, he serves as the bureau's director of the Memphis Tourism Education Foundation, is co-founder of the Beale Street Development Corporation and is a member of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners among other accomplishments.

The Champion Award is presented to a person who has demonstrated a high level of commitment to the state’s tourism industry. Senator Carl R. Moore of Bristol was presented the award at the 2010 Governor’s Conference on Tourism. As senator, Moore was the primary sponsor of many pieces of legislation that supported arts, cultural resources and tourism. In addition, Senator Moore was the former chairman and co-founder of Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway, former president of the Bristol Train Station and currently serves on the board of directors of the Paramount Center of the Arts, Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities, and the Tennessee Veterans’ Home Board among other responsibilities.

Scott Templeton and William J. Wilcox


The Wiley Oakley Award, named after a tourism pioneer from the Great Smoky Mountains, is presented to passionate advocates for Tennessee tourism. William “Bill” J. Wilcox, Jr. was presented with the award for his contributions to tourism in Oak Ridge in telling the story of how the city played a role in ending World War II. A chemist, Wilcox worked on the top-secret “Manhattan Project” in 1943, held positions at both the Y-12 and K-25 plants ranging from head of the physics department to R&D Division and has since taken on the role of lecturer, presenter and film star. 

This year’s Welcome Center of the Year Award was presented to the I-75 Hamilton County/Chattanooga Welcome Center. Jan Elliott, welcome center manager and Charles Webb, welcome center regional manager were both on hand to receive the award.


Fisk Jubillee Singers

Sesquicentennial Signature Event Nov. 12-13, 2010 Save the Date!

How many opportunities are there to experience a real piece of history – especially for free? On November 12-13, the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial will kick off the first of its historic signature events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This event is free and open to the public.

Beginning on Friday at TPAC’s Jackson Hall, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker will open the event, followed by a heart-stirring performance by the renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers, and remarks from Governor Phil Bredesen and James Lighthizer, President of the Civil War Preservation Trust, among many others. Trace Adkins, country star and narrator for Nashville Public Television’s upcoming Civil War documentary series, will also make an appearance.

Saturday offers panel discussions with renowned Civil War scholars at the downtown War Memorial Building, including Drs. Paul Bergeron, Bobby Lovett, Tim Johnson, Carole Bucy, and Van West.

Historian Sam Davis Elliott will discuss the coming of the war and its powerful impact across the nation in Saturday’s keynote address. All panelists return for the closing session “Was Secession Inevitable?” moderated by best-selling author of Widow of the South Robert Hicks. (Authors will also be available for a book signing).

This two-day event is not to be missed! To reserve your seat for the Sesquicentennial Civil War Signature event, please email Vionne Williams at vionne.williams@tn.gov or contact Patricia Gray or Lee Curtis with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development at 615-741-2159.   Be on the lookout for future events hosted by the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

2010 FEI World Equestrian Games

Tennessee Tourism, Agriculture and State Parks Participate in 2010 International Equestrian Festival

The 2010 International Equestrian Festival is being held at the Lexington Convention Center, in Lexington, Kentucky, September 25th - October 10th, 2010. This international event includes world-class educational seminars and convention activities. By showcasing area proprietors and attractions, the 2010 International Equestrian Festival provides an economic driver for the entire region. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Tennessee State Parks are among the 300+ exhibitors and vendors, the perfect supplement to the largest sporting event in the United States in 2010.  

Taking place simultaneously with the Festival is the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the largest equestrian event ever held in the United States, and is the USA's largest spectator sporting event in 2010. More than 800 athletes and 900 horses from 60+ countries are competing for eight world championships in equestrian sport. NBC's coverage of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games represents the largest major network broadcast of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. About 600,000 spectators are expected to attend the 16-day event.

Mirimichi Golf Course Reopens

Justin Timberlake at Mirimichi

On a beautiful Indian summer day, Mirimichi golf course officially celebrated its reopening with a news conference featuring singer/songwriter Justin Timberlake, co-founders/co-owners Lynn and Paul Harless along with officials representing the golf course.
Closed since mid-January for improvements to establish it as one of the world’s premier golf experiences, Mirimichi now offers the highest levels of golf and game improvement facilities.  
“When we initially decided to accelerate three years of course improvements, we knew we had to come out of the closure with something that our loyal customers and the golf world would celebrate,” said Justin Timberlake.  “In looking at what the team accomplished, I am excited about the place we now can claim on the world’s golf stage.  Whether a touring pro, a local Memphis golfer, a tourist to Memphis or someone of any age learning to play the game of golf, Mirimichi has something for you.”

Mirimichi, which means “place of happy retreat,” is located just north of Downtown Memphis.  The par 72 championship course is a challenging 7,400 yards from the tips, but provides five to eight different tee boxes on each hole to appeal to golfers of all abilities. Lush fairways, swathes of native grassland, beautiful landscaping, four waterfalls, six lakes and two meandering streams make this golfing oasis a place where people and nature co-exist in harmony. 

The Mirimichi Performance and Learning Center is one of a select few facilities in the country to feature Callaway CPAS technology. The Center, 10,200 sq. ft. under the roof and a 920 sq. ft. screened-in patio, is the hub of Mirimichi’s training and education, offering world class instruction and club fitting. Three teaching bays feature roll-up doors, allowing students to hit from inside the building onto the driving range. At Mirimichi, you can improve your game year-round.

“We are very proud to offer our Callaway Performance Analysis System at Mirimichi,” said George Fellows, President and CEO, Callaway Golf.  “This proprietary technology, originally designed for our staff professionals such as Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Annika Sorenstam, enables Mirimichi’s talented staff of certified club specialists to find the right equipment for every level of golfer.  Mirimichi’s dedication to growing the game of golf matches up very well with Callaway’s commitment to making every golfer a better golfer through innovation and best in class products.”

Mirimichi is the first golf course in North, South or Central America to receive Golf Environment Organization (GEO) certified status.  It is the first course in the United States to be designated as a Certified Audubon International Classic Sanctuary, making it the only course in the world holding both designations. At Mirimichi, ecologically responsible methods are utilized throughout to enhance water quality and wildlife habitat, and to reduce water and energy consumption. Justin Timberlake and the management of Mirimichi were formally presented the GEO Certification by Bud Smart, GEO Regional Director, The Americas.

“Environmental sustainability at Mirimichi is about more than what we can do at our course.  It is about taking a leadership role and encouraging other golf courses, and organizations of all kinds around the world to emulate our commitment toward making a positive impact on the world we live in,” said Timberlake in accepting the GEO Certification.  “We are very proud to receive this certification.”

Some of the renovations and improvements to the course include increased use of electric carts and other energy saving initiatives; all greens re-contoured to accommodate major championship conditions and green speed and re-sprigged to USGA and PGA tournament quality standards with Champion bermuda grass.

Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways

Walking Tall, Pie in the Sky, and The Jack Trail are soon to be the next three trails launched through the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program. East of Memphis, the Walking Tall Trail will take travelers to Civil War sites, prehistoric wonders, the historic Casey Jones Village, the home and museum of legendary lawman Sheriff Buford Pusser, and the quaint towns and local festivals that line the trail.

The Pie in the Sky Trail starts at Chattanooga's Tennessee Aquarium, and leads to iconic tourist attractions like Ruby Falls and Rock City Gardens. This winding drive through the Appalachian foothills offers endless opportunities for hiking, rafting, biking, canoeing and appreciating the natural landscape of the area.

The Jack Trail strings together Tennessee's royal jewels - Tennessee Walking Horses, historic treasures and spirits. This trail guides you to two distilleries -- Jack Daniels and George Dickel -- as well as Civil War battlefields, historic homes and a working pioneer village.

The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways includes 16 self-guided driving trails through the state that incorporates all 95 counties and Tennessee's five National Scenic Byways. Four trails have previously been launched including Old Tennessee, Sunny Side, Nashville's Trace and White Lightning. For more information visit www.tntrailsandbyways.com.

Civil War Trails Spotlight on Macon County


Macon County is an outstanding example of what a small community with limited funding can do when they recognize the economic opportunities available through the Civil War Trails program.  In August, Macon County communities installed six Civil War Trails markers including one at Epperson Springs, one at Gibbs Cross Roads, another at Elvis Brooks Parker, the fourth at Meadorville, the fifth at Red Boiling Springs, and the gateway Marker in Lafayette. In September a marker dedication was held at their courthouse.

Congratulations to the people of Lafayette and all the citizens of Macon County for this visionary accomplishment.



Sustainable Tourism Green Certification Workshop to be Held in Knoxville


As part of Tennessee’s ongoing Sustainable Tourism initiative, a green certification workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in Knoxville at the Knoxville Convention Center. Sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, this workshop, one of five scheduled throughout the state this year, will facilitate discussions and solicit partner input regarding the development of a state green certification program for the tour and travel industry. In addition, the events will provide continued sustainable tourism resources, case studies, best practices and access to leading experts.

This initiative will encourage the state's tour and travel industry to become leaders in the implementation of energy, water and waste conservation, pollution prevention and sustainable business practices. The overall goal of the program is to establish a regional model for certification by working with EPA and the green hospitality guidelines they have established. 

Tennessee has a nationally recognized, award-winning green certification program to utilize as a model through Chattanooga Green Lodging created by The Chattanooga Hospitality Association and adopted by the Tennessee Hospitality Association. The departments will work with industry partners, THA and Chattanooga Green to provide the latest green certification information to the industry as well as facilitating an interactive open discussion.

The final workshop will be held Nov. 30 in Memphis.

To attend a workshop and be part of this important discussion on green certification for Tennessee’s tour and travel industry, RSVP today to Patricia Gray at patricia.gray@tn.gov or (615) 741-9004. Visit tnsustainabletourism.com for additional information.

Facts & Trends


New Tennessee Travel Reports Now Online  
The latest Tennessee visitor profile is now accessible from the Industry Partner Page  located on the state’s travel website; TNvacation.com. 

The Tennessee Travel Barometer 2010, prepared by D.K. Shifflet & Associates for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, is a comprehensive analysis of the travel market in the U.S. and Tennessee.

The 2010-2011 Governor’s Conference Report and The Economic Impact of Tourism on Tennessee Counties Report 2010 are also available in the tnvacation.com industry section.  

For more information regarding the research reports please contact Patricia Gray, Manager, Research and Support Services at 615-741-9004 or patricia.gray@tn.gov.

T3 - Tennessee Travel Tuesdays
In an effort to promote tourism across the state, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has created a campaign to promote deals and specials across the state. Tennessee Travel Tuesdays (T3) will rely on partners to submit deals that meet specific criteria.

Deals must be submitted by end of day on Friday and will be reviewed and posted the following Tuesday. T3 will be promoted through Tennessee's social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter), Emails, weekly  text messages, display advertisements, and on the homepage of tnvacation.com. T3 is a fun way for tourists to enjoy the many attractions this great state has to offer. 

Technology and Travel
Surveys continue to verify the value of face-to-face business travel.  A new one, produced by American Express Business Travel and the Institute of Travel and Meetings, verified that new communication methods are becoming normal for internal meetings.  However only 22 percent of travelers surveyed believe that videoconferencing provides the opportunity to influence, negotiate and maintain important relationships. 

Other findings revealed that 48 percent of business travelers notate a “significant higher” ROI from face-to-face meetings.  Full findings are available at virtualtravel.americanexpress.com.

Welcome Center

Charles Webb, Jan Elliott, Commissioner
Whitaker and Barry Young

Welcome Center of the Year

The "Welcome Center of the Year" award was presented at the 2010 Governor's Conference on Tourism in Kingsport in front of 300 people from the tourism industry.
In case you haven't heard, this year's winner is the I-75 Chattanooga Welcome Center.  Jan Elliott and the I-75 staff have worked very hard to have a clean and welcoming facility, so they are very deserving of this award.  If you get a chance please congratulate them on a job well done.  I-75 is now in possession of the traveling plaque with their name engraved on it for this year.  I will also treat the I-75 staff to a meal as a token of my appreciation for their excellent work.
The award is now in its fourth year, and I am starting to hear some competitive talk among the managers.  This is exactly what I intended for the award to do--start a friendly competition among the centers and for all centers to strive for excellence!
After Jan received the award, she commented that "it's on for next year."  She was referring to the fact that the competition is going to be more difficult next year with all of the new centers coming online.  It will be a challenge for any one center to hang on to the plaque for too long, but I love the fact that the centers are starting to be competitive with one another, in a good way, of course.  The real winner will be the travelers who stop in to the Tennessee Welcome Centers!  I believe we have the best in the country!

Employee of the Month

Dexter King

Putting forth the effort is what the September Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month is known for.  Dexter King, a Building Maintenance Worker I, has been with our department since August 1, 2009 and has continuously impressed those around him. Dexter's permanent work location is the I-24 Tiftonia Welcome Center; however, he has been temporarily assigned to the I-75 Chattanooga Welcome Center while the Tiftonia Center is being rebuilt. 

"Dexter is the type of employee that every supervisor wishes for," said I-75 Manager Jan Elliott.  "He goes about his duties cheerfully and thoroughly.  I receive many compliments from our visitors due to Dexter's manners and work ethic." 

One of those compliments on Dexter recently came to us by letter from a visitor from Atlanta, Georgia.  This gentleman had lost his hearing aid and called to ask Dexter and the security officer to look for it.  Even though they didn't find the hearing aid, the visitor was very impressed by the efforts that Dexter and the security officer made to find it, looking carefully in the places where the visitor had been while at the Welcome Center.  Our visitor was very appreciative that Dexter was willing to "do a good turn" by looking for the missing hearing aid.

Industry Applause

Governor Bredesen with the 2010 CTTP Graduates

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

CTTP 2010 Graduates
Members of the CTTP graduating class of 2010 were awarded certificates by Gov. Phil Bredesen at the conclusion of the Governor’s Luncheon during this year’s Governor’s Conference.

STS Recognizes Shining Examples
In conjunction with the Southeast Tourism Society Fall Meeting, the organization honors those that have advanced the cause of travel and tourism in the Southeast and that have demonstrated exceptional leadership.

The Shining Example Awards recognize outstanding contributions in tourism in the Southeastern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia & West Virginia.

Dr. Steve Morse Receives Award

Travel Attraction of the Year
Rock City Gardens, Lookout Mountain

Top 20 Event/Festival of the Year (Category 1)
Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion – Bristol, Tenn./Va.

Governmental Tourism Leadership Award
Earlene Teaster, City Manager, Pigeon Forge

Southeast Tourism Society board chairman, Rob Varley, also recognized Dr. Steve Morse – University of Tennessee, with the Chairman of the Board Award for outstanding service to the Society and the board.

ABA Top 100 Events
Congratulations to Nashville for two events being named on ABA’s Top 100 Events for 2011. The CMA Music Festival and ICE! Gaylord Opryland both made the prestigious list.

2010 Rivers and Spires Festival Wins Four Awards

Rivers & Spires Festival, Clarksville

The 2010 Rivers and Spires Festival walked away from the International Festivals & Events Association Conference with four more awards to add to its already impressive collection.This year the Rivers and Spires Festival won the following four awards, Gold Award for the Best Radio Promotion Sponsored by 5 Star Radio Group; Silver Award for Best Sponsor, 5 Star Radio Group; Bronze Award for Best New Event (Patchwork Premiere) sponsored by Planters Bank; Bronze Award for Best Children's Programming (Aspire to Stardom) sponsored by A+ Property Management.

The 2010 IFEA / Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Awards were announced on September 15th at the IFEA Convention & Expo in Saint Louis, Missouri. Theresa Harrington, Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and Doug Barber, CVB Special Events Manager, were both in attendance to accept the awards.

Chattanooga and Clarksville Farmer’s Markets Recognized
The Chattanooga Market was recently named by The American Farmland Trust as the #8 Market in the Country in large markets.

Clarksville's Downtown Market was named #6 in medium markets.

Lee Curtis Appointed to Civil War Board
Lee Curtis, director of program development for the department has been asked to serve on the Civil War Trails Board of Directors, adding to the list of Civil War related boards including the TCWNHA, TCWPA, TPT  and the TN Sesquicentennial Commission  representing the department that she has served on for years.

Quote of the Month
The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.

- Susan Sontag

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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