Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents May 2012 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

What a significant time of opportunity for tourism in Tennessee and the U.S.! April turned out to be an extremely busy and productive month for the industry both here and across the country.

On the Tennessee home front, the Tennessee Tourism Committee, composed of tourism leaders from across the state, continued to compile and review best practices for state tourism efforts. In April, the Committee met in Chattanooga on April 19, with 150 people attending a public forum that provided invaluable input to the committee members.

Committee Chairman Colin Reed, CEO of Gaylord Entertainment, along with co-chairs Jack Soden of Elvis Presley Enterprises and Ted Miller of Dolly Parton Productions, have put together a rigorous process of research and collaboration that is designed to determine the optimum growth strategy for Tennessee's tourism industry. When finished, recommendations will be made to Governor Bill Haslam, as requested.

The next meeting and open forum will be held in Jackson in June. Please watch for details on this and other future meetings throughout the state from the Tourism Committee. Your ideas and feedback are crucial in determining the best possible plan for the department.

The Department of Tourist Development just concluded another successful Tennessee Sampler Express with more than 50 state tourism partners and six staff members participating. Sales and PR meetings were held in 30+ markets including Dallas/Fort Worth, St. Louis, Atlanta, Louisville and Cincinnati. Over 100 sales calls were conducted at AAA offices, travel agencies and with tour operators. Twenty-eight PR meetings were held with major publications including American Way Magazine, Atlanta Journal Constitution, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Southern Living. Thanks to everyone who made this such a successful venture that will put Tennessee’s vacation destinations in front of hundreds of thousands of potential visitors.

In West Tennessee, Hardin County and the surrounding region welcomed more than 100,000 visitors to a ten-day period of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. This historic occasion included the Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission’s 2012 Signature event featuring a keynote address by Governor Haslam.  Following that event, First Lady Crissy Haslam took time to speak to approximately 150 local students who had gathered to learn about this watershed battle in our nation’s history. Plans are already underway for the next Sesquicentennial Signature event to take place in Chattanooga in October 2013.

Seventeen Tennessee delegates attended the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow in Los Angeles the last week of April, where more than 6,000 tourism professionals gathered to conduct business. More than 70  countries were represented at this year’s event with 500 media representatives participating from the U.S. and around the world.

A highpoint of the international event was the roll-out of Brand USA’s new world-wide marketing campaign during Monday’s luncheon. Cheers rang out from the Tennessee delegation as Chris Perkins, Brand USA’s chief marketing officer, announced that native Tennessean and country-music star Rosanne Cash both penned and performs the theme song “Land of Dreams” for Brand USA’s  commercials.

The campaign strategy was positioned as taking advantage of “music as the universal language” to help encourage international travel to the United States. What perfect timing for Tennessee as we use our new campaign, “Tennessee – We’re Playing Your Song!” We look forward to the pending release of cooperative marketing opportunities with Brand USA and will keep you informed on that information as it becomes available.

During this election year U.S. Travel has launched the "Vote Travel" bus tour traveling across the country to emphasize the importance of travel to the economic health of the nation. The bus made a stop in Memphis in March and will stop in Nashville on May 4 for a Travel Rally in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Hope to see you there!

National Travel and Tourism Week will be celebrated May 5-13 throughout the U.S. as communities celebrate the economic power of travel. In Tennessee, our Welcome Centers will host special events throughout the week with participation from Graceland, Gatlinburg’s Mountain Top Resorts, Casey Jones Village and many other tourism businesses.

I was privileged to participate in the dedication of the I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Center to honor Rep. Zane Whitson. The late Rep. Whitson served Unicoi and Greene Counties as a House member of the 91st through 102nd General Assemblies.  New Welcome Center Director Pete Rosenboro emceed the very successful dedication event.

May is a busy month throughout Tennessee with Memphis in May, Dolly’s Homecoming Parade in Pigeon Forge, the International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, West Tennessee’s Strawberry Festival in Humboldt, and the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville. Let me encourage you to take time to enjoy some of these special Tennessee celebrations.

May is also shaping up to be the beginning of a very successful peak travel season for our industry as well as the start of millions of happy vacations for our guests. Thank you for that special blend of hospitality, hard work and creativity that continues to make tourism the powerhouse economic driver that it is in Tennessee.

Here’s to a spectacular summer!

Susan Whitaker


Featured Articles:

Tennessee to Celebrate 2012 National Travel and Tourism Week

National Travel and Tourism Week

In recognition of tourism’s tremendous economic, social and cultural impact throughout the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will participate with the U.S. Travel Association in the 2012 National Travel and Tourism Week, May 5-13. This is a time to celebrate the importance of tourism, as cities and travel businesses nationwide rally in support of the industry’s impact on local communities and states.

In recognition of National Travel and Tourism Week, Tennessee’s Welcome Centers will help lead in the statewide celebration. Each of the 14 Welcome Centers throughout the state will host special tourism events that represent the unique attractions in their areas. Representatives and mascots from popular sites will greet travelers at the centers with a variety of refreshments, brochures, coupons, local music and Tennessee hospitality. In recognition of the nationwide salute to travel and tourism, make plans to meet tourism partners from the Loveless Café, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Dixie Stampede, Cirque de Chine, Titanic Pigeon Forge, Graceland, West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, Casey Jones Village, Rock City,  Tennessee’s award-winning state parks and many more.

Tennessee tourism generates $14.1 billion in economic impact and continues to be a major economic driver for the state, providing $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue.

National Tourism Week was established in 1983 when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution designating the week to be celebrated in May 1984. In a White House ceremony, President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to observe the week with “the appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Travel and tourism generates $1.9 trillion in economic output for the U.S. economy, with $813 billion spent directly by domestic and international travelers that spurred an additional $1.1 trillion in other industries.The industry also represents one of America’s largest employers, supporting 14.4 million jobs.

Screaming Eagle Trail Launched

L to R: TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, Sen.
Tim Barnes, Commissioner Whitaker, Clarksville
Mayor Kim McMillan, Colonel William Hickman,
Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers,
Rep. John Tidwell

The Screaming Eagle Trail officially launched April 20 at a special event held at the Rivers & Spires Festival in Clarksville, Tenn. The 13th of 16 self-guided driving tours in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program, The Screaming Eagle travels 353 miles from Nashville throughout other towns and rural communities of Middle Tennessee.

State and local officials participated in the special event, including Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Commissioner John Schroer, Tennessee Department of Transportation. At the launch, dignitaries welcomed guests, thanked participating partners on the trail committee, premiered the 23-page comprehensive brochure and unveiled one of the TDOT highway signs that will soon mark the trail.

The Screaming Eagle Trail, with the tagline, “Lady Legends to Heroes Trail,” features 76 tourism sites. It is the result of a partnership between multiple state agencies and city and county officials. The end result is a trail made up of sites and attractions in Benton, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery and Stewart counties that highlights Middle Tennessee’s history, landscape, landscape, music and cuisine.

Marketing Update

2011-2012 Partnership Marketing Program

The deadline is right around the corner for the close of the 2011-2012 Partnership Marketing Program. Many of you have submitted your information for reimbursement, and many of you have a few final details to finish. Below is a reminder of the reimbursement procedures and deadlines.

Thanks for your participation in this program, and please let us know if you have any questions!


Reimbursement paperwork must be received by June 1, 2012. The qualifying project must be complete by May 25, 2012 in order to receive the funds. The procedures are as follows:

If your project was completed using an advertising agency (funds are not distributed directly to agencies): After a qualifying project (or portion) is complete, your agency needs to invoice you for the project, as well as provide proof of completion (samples, tear-sheets, media affidavits, etc.). On your organizations letterhead, send a request for reimbursement stating the project name and the total amount requested, along with copies of the above documentation to:

Tennessee Tourism Partnership Marketing Program
Sullivan Branding
Attention: Kristen Counce
1808 Patterson Street
Nashville, TN  37203
(615) 321-1013

If your project was completed without an advertising agency follow these guidelines: After a qualifying project (or portion) is complete, your vendor or media outlet will provide an invoice for the project, as well as proof of completion (samples, tear-sheets, media affidavits, etc.). On your organization’s letterhead, send a request for reimbursement stating the project name and the total amount requested, along with copies of the above documentation to the address above. Your organization is then responsible for issuing a check to your vendor or media outlet.


A final report on the marketing effectiveness of the project, as well as proof of the deliverables for TDTD, is due by June 15, 2012.

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Attention: Jamie Lynn Thompson
William Snodgrass/Tennessee Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 25th Floor
Nashville, TN  37243

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please call Jamie Lynn Thompson at (615) 741-9014 or email jamielynn.thompson@tn.gov, or contact Jennifer Littlejohn at (615) 741-9025 or Jennifer.Littlejohn@tn.gov

Please note the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development reserves the right to work with partners for reimbursement due to any unforeseen circumstances that may require adjustments in marketing initiatives and funding availability.

International Pow Wow A Success

Memphis at Pow Wow

Tennessee recently concluded another successful International Pow Wow Convention, held in Los Angeles this year. Approximately 6000 total delegates were in attendance, with representatives from various U.S. travel organizations scheduled to meet with international and domestic leisure buyers, international meeting and incentive buyers, and international and domestic journalists, looking to promote themselves for future travel from the international tourism market.  

This year, the Tennessee Tourism booth partnered with Dollywood, Chattanooga CVB, and the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce, to conduct 44 pre-scheduled appointments with clients from Orlando, FL, to Tokyo, Japan, and many countries in between, while also picking up several additional meetings during the convention. In addition to TDTD, Tennessee was well-represented by our colleagues from the Memphis CVB, Graceland, the Nashville CVB, and their respective booth sponsors, including the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, the Comfort Inn Memphis, Wright Investments, and Gaylord Attractions. In addition, more than 25 meetings were conducted with U.S. and international media representatives during the event.

Play Tennessee Update


Tennessee Is Playing More Than Your Song!

Play Tennessee, the sports marketing initiative of TDTD, traveled to Hartford, Connecticut on April 16-19 for this year’s National Association of Sports Commission Symposium. Ten partners hailing from Memphis to Kingsport met with owners from around the country in efforts to drive more sporting events to our state. Partners participated in more than 70 appointments with several additional leads for other possible sporting events.

First time attendee Molly Brown of the Cookeville CVB saw the value of the annual event.  “It was an impressive conference and allowed me to gather a great deal of information to report back to our Sports Council. I was able to learn so much and the networking options were outstanding."

During the Networking Reception, sponsored by Play Tennessee, several hundred attendees enjoyed the Discover Tennessee branding video and television spot.  The silver level sponsorship included additional exposure, including the Play Tennessee name on marketing materials and attendee emails and a half-page color ad in the official program.

For more information on Play Tennessee contact Derrick Smith at 615.741.9049 or derrick.smith@tn.gov.

2012 Web Assistance Tour Update

As the Spring 2012 Web Assistance Tour comes to a close the marketing division of the Department of Tourist Development would like to thank all of those who attended or hosted a Web training session!

Please check our industry section on tnvacation.com for the new Clarksville date as well as new locations and dates coming in 2012.

Click here for more tour news and updates.

Civil War Update

Joining Commissioner Susan Whitaker and
Dr. Van West for the dedication of the Admiral
David Farragut’s Birthplace Civil War Trails marker
in Knox County are Knoxville Mayor Madeline
Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Farrag

Civil War Trail Marker Dedicated in Knox County

On April 28, Commissioner Whitaker and Dr. Carroll Van West traveled to Knox County for the dedication ceremony of the Civil War Marker at the birthplace of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett hosted the dedication ceremony attended by many local dignitaries.

In conjunction with the Trail Marker dedication, The Knoxville Civil War Gateway, located at 200 West Hill Avenue officially opened. The Gateway will provide maps, walking tour brochures, videos, troop information and graphic presentations of the Civil War story in East Tennessee.

Re-cap of 2012 Sesquicentennial Signature Event

The Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event, Invasions by Rail and River: The Battle of Shiloh, held April 4-5 at Pickwick Landing State Park, was an event worthy of the 150th commemoration of the Battle of Shiloh, now one of America’s most important Civil War battlefields.  It is estimated that 1,500 guests, from 15 states and two countries, attended the two day event. More than 100,000 visitors participated in the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, which included multiple events that took place between March 29 and April 8.

A special highlight of the event was the announcement by the Civil War Trust detailing three recent preservation efforts on the storied battlefield. The efforts include the transfer of 167 acres of hallowed ground to the National Park Service, the announcement of a $1.2 million campaign to save an additional 491 acres of battlefield land at Shiloh and an update on progress to preserve 267 acres at nearby Fallen Timbers.

In conjunction with the 2012 Civil War Sesquicentennial Event, Tennessee launched the first statewide Civil War mobile application for Apple devices. App features include maps, flags, rich descriptions and the historical significance of 50 people, 50 places and 100 artifacts.

2013 Sesquicentennial Signature Event Dates Announced

Dates have been set for the 2013 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event: Occupation and Liberation commemorating the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. The Signature Event will be held October 10-12, 2013 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

Welcome Center

L to R: Rep. David Hawk, TDOT Commissioner
John Schroer, Diane Whitson and Diana Thompson,
wife and daughter of the the late Rep. Zane Whitson,
TDTD Commissioner Susan Whitaker.

Late Rep. Zane Whitson Honored

The Tennessee Departments of Tourist Development and Transportation, along with other state and local officials, rededicated the Interstate 26 Tennessee Welcome Center in Unicoi County. The Welcome Center was rededicated in honor of former legislator Zane Whitson who represented the county and part of Greene County in the state House of Representatives for 24 years.

Whitson, who died in 2009, was instrumental in the development of I-26 through Unicoi County to North Carolina. He also served on the House Education Committee, Finance, Ways & Means Committee along with serving as industrial recruiter for the county.

Industry Applause


The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that 4.2 million international visitors traveled to the United States in February 2012, a nine percent increase over February 2011. February 2012 registered the 11th straight month of increases in total U.S. visits.


East Tennessee State University has been officially designated as a U.S. Olympic Training Site for weightlifting by the United States Olympic Committee. Through a partnership with USOC and USA Weightlifting, the university will recruit men and women who have a proven record in both weightlifting and academics and who aspire to compete at the Olympic level.




Forbes Magazine gathered folks who know something about travel destinations and asked them to produce a list of America's 10 prettiest towns. The experts were from the Travel Channel, National Geographic, Fodor's and elsewhere. With its charming, quaint old buildings in the center of town, its dramatic mountain backdrop and the only ski resort in Tennessee, Gatlinburg has become a popular tourist destination for regional fun-seekers. Gatlinburg is surrounded on three sides by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Work Zone Awareness Week (April 23-27)  was the perfect time for TDOT  to honor those Tennessee Department of Transportation employees who have been killed in the line of duty.  During a ceremony a plaque was presented that will permanently be displayed in the Pyramid Welcome Center in Memphis, Tennessee. This past year has been difficult for those in TDOT, losing two employees in Region 4, Robert Nowicki of our HELP Unit on June 20, 2011 and Michael Dalton of our Arlington Maintenance Office on September 8, 2011..


Outdoors with Larry Rea, which is in its 11th year on Sports 790-AM in Memphis as part of the Entercom family of stations, earned double awards during the Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association's annual conference April 20-21 in Chattanooga. OLR, a weekly 90-minute show broadcast on Saturday mornings from 6-7:30 CDT, won first and second place in the TOWA’s Excellence in Craft Radio broadcast category with segments on The Dangers of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (first) and Talking Hunting with Bill & Johnny (second).

Bill Dance


The 2012 induction class of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame already includes Gene Bartow and Coach David Walker along with Tennessean of the Year Pat Summitt, but the list of honorees keeps growing. The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame announced today the names of the honorees to be recognized at its annual awards banquet and induction ceremony. Bill Dance will be inducted for his legendary fishing skills.


The Southwest Tennessee Development District announced it presented Rep. Jimmy Eldridge with the organization’s Legislator of the Year Award. Representative Eldridge is a veteran of Capitol Hill and last year was chosen to serve as the Chairman of the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee.


National Geographic Traveler named Shiloh Battlefield the 3rd best Civil War site to explore, just behind Fort Sumter and Manassas Battlefield.

We're Playing Your Song

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