2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism Hits High Marks
The 2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Murfreesboro featured three days of dynamic workshops, seminars, keynote speakers and networking opportunities. The conference concluded on Friday with three important back-to-back addresses. Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel Association presented his highly motivational keynote address, a session providing insight and inspiration for the future.
Immediately following the keynote speech, Commissioner Susan Whitaker presented her state-of-the-industry address. Among the important news delivered to the industry by Commissioner Whitaker was the announcement of tourism’s latest economic impact number. Tourism brought $14.4 billion in direct economic impact to the state, providing more than $1 billion in sales tax revenue, an increase of 1.5 percent. Tourism employs more than 182,000 Tennesseans.
Those numbers confirm tourism’s continued expansion as one of Tennessee’s key economic drivers. For the second consecutive year, Tennessee ranks in the top 10 U.S. states for domestic visitation: ranking 8th in person-days, and 9th in person-stays (moving up from 10th) in 2008.
Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association
Governor Phil Bredesen closed out the tourism conference by presenting his remarks at the Governor’s luncheon. “Each year of my administration we have been able to report an increase in tourism’s economic impact to Tennessee. Given the challenges our nation is facing in the current economic climate, I am particularly pleased this year is no different,” said Bredesen. “These numbers attest to the quality of Tennessee’s tourism offerings and reflect the continued success of the efforts of those who work in our tourism industry.”
Commissioner Whitaker also announced the upcoming launch of Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways, a statewide trails initiative encompassing all 95 counties and slated to launch in November. Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways will feature 14 regional trails throughout Tennessee with dynamic names such as “Ring of Fire” Trail, “Proud Mary” Trail and “Walking Tall” Trail. Three statewide-themed trails, Music, Motorcycle and Civil War Trails, are also part of the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways plan.
The Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways initiative provides excellent state agency partnership opportunities including joint participation with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Byways Program, Environment and Conservation’s State Parks, and Economic and Community Development’s Main Street and Three-Star Programs.
“The trails initiative is one of the most comprehensive marketing and branding initiatives ever to be launched from the state’s tourism department,” said Whitaker. “Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways is an opportunity to showcase tourism’s major sites as well as our state’s exceptional off-the-beaten-path attractions which are some of Tennessee’s greatest assets.”
The Governor’s Conference on Tourism exists to inform, update, and inspire tourism partners from across the state through keynote speakers, seminars, networking and the annual state of the industry presentation. The event is a partnership between the Department of Tourism and the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable.
Blowing Out 75 Candles at Great Smoky Mountains
More than 2000 supporters of Great Smoky Mountains National Park gathered at the Tennessee/North Carolina border on September 2nd to celebrate the park’s 75 year history and rededicate its beauty and resources for future generations. The rededication ceremony at Newfound Gap marked the final official event of 2009’s 75th Anniversary celebration. The ceremony was held at the same stone stage where, in 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stood to proclaim the attributes of the park.
Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, joined U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue and others in addressing past residents and neighboring stakeholders of the park. Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke accompanied Governor Bredesen.
Dolly Parton, who served as the Park’s International Ambassador during the year-long 75th celebration, personified the heart and soul of the Smokies as she sang the poignant, “My Mountains, My Home.” The song originates from her CD and musical stage production, Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke! Proceeds from the recording benefit Friends of the Smokies throughout 2009. Sha-Kon-O-Hey continues to play at Dollywood thru October 31, 2009.
In planning for the 75th Anniversary, Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson commented that he envisioned more than simply blowing out 75 candles and moving on. Those comments inspired numerous other activities that drew attention to the park’s natural beauty and the need to sustain its resources for future generations. State tourism agencies in Tennessee and North Carolina joined with the park and others for the Sustainable Tourism Summit in April, 2008 in Knoxville. Numerous gateway communities also sponsored events in honor of the anniversary.
Ironically, as Superintendent Ditmanson ceremonially “blew out the candles” with his closing remarks, the iconic “smoke” for which the park was named, made its graceful entrance toward the staging area. Many of those attending the event left with anticipation of attending the centennial celebration in 25 years.
National Preservation Conference
National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Preservation Conference is being held in Nashville, October 13-17. The National Preservation Conference is the premier educational and networking event for historic preservation professionals, volunteer leaders, and advocates. Expert practitioners lead approximately 100 educational and field sessions, all designed to provide tools that participants can use to improve their own communities. The theme for this year's conference is "Sustaining the Future in Harmony with Our Pasts".
The conference will feature many distinguished leaders including, Dr. Van West of the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU who will present at several sessions that will include tourism partners, and Commissioner Susan Whitaker will present “Why Sustainable Tourism Makes Both Dollars and Sense,” along with Dr. West.
On Wednesday, October 14, 2009, the Preserve America Communities and Partners Forum will be held from 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. in the Music City Ballroom, Renaissance Nashville Hotel. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) invites all representatives of Preserve America Communities, Neighborhoods, Stewards, Grant Recipients, and past Award winners to attend a Preserve America Communities and Partners Forum. Join representatives of Preserve America Communities and partners from throughout the region and across the country to share successes, best practices and discuss future directions. Staff of the ACHP and the NPS will be on hand to answer questions and to update participants on new developments in the Preserve America program.
There are now 762 Preserve America Communities and Neighborhoods designated in all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including 17 neighborhoods and three tribal communities. Eight of these communities are in Tennessee. Preserve America Grants have provided more than $17 million in matching grant funds to 228 projects since 2006. A total of 13 Preserve America Stewards recognitions have honored programs that have demonstrated exemplary use of volunteers to help care for our cultural heritage. Since the program's inception there have also been 20 Presidential Award winners as well as state and national winners of the Preserve America History Teacher of the Year.
This affinity session is being held in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Preservation Conference. Although you are encouraged to register for the entire conference, general registration is not required to attend this session, which is free to attendees. The Preserve America Forum will end at 3:30 p.m. to allow National Trust conference attendees to attend the opening plenary session at Ryman Auditorium, home of the "Grand Old Opry," at 4:00 p.m.
For more information on the National Preservation Conference, go to www.nthpconference.org. If you wish to attend the Preserve America Forum, please contact Judy Rodenstein at email@example.com, or 202-606-8584 by Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2009.
Civil War Trails Dedication Ceremonies Held in
Officials from Monroe County and the Tennessee
Dept. of Tourist Development Celebrate
Monroe County was the site of three unveilings of Civil War Trails markers. Madisonville and Sweetwater are two of the latest towns to dedicate historical markers as part of the Tennessee Civil War Trails program, following the latest round on installations in August.
The marker at Madisonville, placed in front of the Monroe County Courthouse, depicts the story of a divided town during the Civil War. Two markers have been placed in Sweetwater. The Sweetwater Rail Car on Main Street provides visitors with a place to learn about the use of the railroad in and through Sweetwater during the War. The Lost Sea houses an old saltpeter cave, which provided a key ingredient in the production of gunpowder.
The Department expects to install nearly 30 more markers during the next round of installations, which will take place during the week of October 5, 2009. This will bring the total number of historical markers to 113, with 150 expected by the end of the year.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-532-8077.
Facts & Trends
Tennessee Tourism Reports Online
The 2009-2010 Governor’s Conference Report and The Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties 2008 are now available online at tnvacation.com/industry. Copies of these reports were distributed following Commissioner Whitaker’s State of the Industry address during the 2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
Pure Hospitality Trend Uncovered from Mt. Juliet to Knoxville
Recently, Tony Rubleski, President of Mind Capture Group, was visiting Tennessee as the keynote speaker to roughly 65 chamber and economic development professionals in Mt. Juliet. During his two days in the area, he noticed a consistent trend of friendliness everywhere he went.
In his recent blog, he stated, “Everyone from the guest services pro at the Holiday Inn Express… to the servers at Panera Bread to Red Robin went above and beyond to make sure I was not only happy, but that my questions were handled quickly.” On his third day in Knoxville, he noticed the same friendly attitude all over again.
“Great service over three straight days is almost impossible to find these days, unless you're in Tennessee,” he stated.
Rubleski offers three points of service that businesses could learn from his travel experience.
1. Customer service is good for business. Period. A friendly smile along with a simple "please" and "thank you" still go a long way.
2. More people in our state's hospitality and retail industries need to listen better and keep an upbeat attitude.
3. We need to make people feel more welcomed when they do business with us.
Click here for more of his comments about the Tennessee experience.
Landmark Study Reveals ROI of Business Travel
New research conducted by global research firm Oxford Economics establishes the first clear link between business travel and business growth as American businesses are planning their 2010 budgets and federal policymakers are looking to stimulate the American economy. For every dollar invested in business travel, businesses experience an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits, according to the study.
This is the first time that the return on investment of business travel has been successfully measured.
“Business travel IS economic stimulus,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, which commissioned the study. “In order to grow, businesses have to invest. This research shows that face-to-face meetings and incentive awards to top performers are among the smartest investments companies can make.”
The study found that curbing business travel can have a strong negative impact on corporate profits. The average business in the U.S. would forfeit 17 percent of its profits in the first year of eliminating business travel, and it would take more than three years for profits to recover.
Both executives and business travelers estimate that 28 percent of current business would be lost without in-person meetings. Roughly 40 percent of prospective customers are converted to new customers with an in-person meeting, compared to 16 percent without such a meeting. Executives cited customer meetings as having the greatest returns, approximately $15-$19.99 per dollar invested, with conference and trade show participation returns ranging from $4-$5.99 per dollar invested.
For copy of the full study and additional resources, visit www.meetingsmeanbusiness.com/value-meetings.
Chattanooga Green Lodgings Program First in America
Green Globe International, Inc. the worldwide owner of the Green Globe brand has recognized the Greater Chattanooga Hospitality Association's Chattanooga Green Lodgings Program, the leading certification program for tourism accommodation in the state of Tennessee.
"The Chattanooga Green Program is the first U.S. based program to be fully recognized by Green Globe," said Guido Bauer, CEO of Green Globe Certification. "All hotels certified under the Chattanooga Green Program will automatically receive Green Globe Certified status."
The Green Lodging Program encourages hotels, bed and breakfasts, other lodging facilities and restaurants to be aware of their impact on the environment and to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint while enhancing the overall sustainability of their operations.
Certification to the Chattanooga Green/Green Globe program requires audited performance in five Core areas of energy, water and resource conservation, plus a written plan for further improvement. Hotels may also note sustainable practices that go beyond the Core requirements.
Earlier this year, Ruby Falls in Chattanooga was announced as the first U.S. client for the dual Green Globe/Green Certifications program for tourism businesses. The dual certification program is offered by Green Globe International, Inc., worldwide owner of the Green Globe Brand, and Green Certifications, Inc., a leading third party certification based on internationally accepted documentation.
Welcome Center News
Commissioners Gerald Nicely (TDOT) and Susan
Whitaker (Tourism) are flanked by federal and
local officials and welcome center staff during
Official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
Jellico Grand Opening
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Transportation hosted the grand opening ceremony of Tennessee’s newly completed, Jellico I-75 South Welcome Center (Campbell County). The center is located at I-75 just south of the Tennessee/Kentucky state line.
Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Commissioner Gerald Nicely, Tennessee Department of Transportation, were on hand to bring remarks and officially open the center with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Special guests also included United States Congressman Lincoln Davis, Tennessee state legislators Senator Ken Yager, and Representative Chad Faulkner. Other local elected officials, tourism industry partners and local citizens were part of the grand opening celebration.
“This new Welcome Center provides visitors the perfect combination of Tennessee warmth and hospitality,” said Whitaker. “Our Welcome Center employees are dedicated to making a great first impression to their 15 million guests each year. A visit to one of Tennessee’s 13 Welcome Centers is a great start to the perfect Tennessee vacation experience.”
"TDOT and Tourism work together throughout the year on a variety of projects, such as this new Welcome Center on I-75,” said Nicely. “With an average of more than 1 million visitors a year, the original 40-year-old building was in need of replacement. We are pleased to be here today to open this new facility four months ahead of schedule."
On-hand to add some great Tennessee music was the Dixie Stampede Carriage Room Band, best known for their down-home renditions of popular Tennessee favorites.
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. Included in the expansive lobby area is a gathering spot complete with a fireplace and rocking chairs. 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.
Welcome Center of the Year
(Seated, l to r) Janice Martin, Mary Bailey, Marilyn
Steadman, (Standing l to r) Ken Olinger, Hal Salley,
Laura Munn (Regional Manager), Mike Feathers,
Jim Bibee (Manager), Ken Brown and Richard Neal
The 2009 Welcome Center of the Year award was presented to the I-81 Sullivan County Welcome Center at Bristol during the Governor's Conference on Tourism at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro, September 17. The 13 Tennessee Welcome Centers pride themselves on excellent customer service to the traveling public. The award is based on inspections for cleanliness and customer service scores (including hotel reservations and comments from the public) for the past twelve months.
"Jim (Bibee) and his staff do an outstanding job at the Bristol Welcome Center," said Barry Young, Director of Welcome Centers. "The Center is always in immaculate condition and their focus is on excellent customer service." This is the third year the "Welcome Center of the Year" award has been presented at the Governor's Conference on Tourism, and the second time the Bristol Welcome Center has received the award.
Employee of the Month
Jellico Welcome Center's, Rick Parks was selected as the Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for September 2009. Rick, the Manager at the I-75 Welcome Center, has been employed with the Department of Tourist Development since 1995. Under Rick's leadership, the Jellico Welcome Center staff has done an excellent job with the difficult transition of moving in and out of a temporary site this past year while the new Jellico Center was under construction. All of Rick's efforts came to fruition with the Grand Opening of the new Jellico Welcome Center.
First National Memorial Service for Meriwether Lewis – Commemorates 200th Anniversary of Lewis’ Death
On October 7, 2009, Meriwether Lewis, the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, will be honored for the first time with a national memorial service. In commemoration of the bicentennial of Lewis’ death and to respect his memory, Hohenwald, Tenn. will pay tribute to Meriwether Lewis with a ceremony worthy of this true American hero.
The commemorative event will begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Meriwether Lewis grave and monument at milepost 385.9 on the Natchez Trace Parkway and just off Tennessee Hwy. 20 in Hohenwald. The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, headquartered in Montana, will host the bicentennial commemoration through its Tennessee Meriwether Lewis chapter. The ceremony will be part of the Foundation’s annual meeting.
Descendants of both Lewis and Clark, government officials, tribal chiefs, representatives from Monticello, re-enactors from the Lewis and Clark Expedition bicentennial and people from across the country will assemble at Meriwether Lewis’ grave to mourn the tragedy of his short life and to honor his achievements. Representatives from states associated with the Lewis and Clark expedition will carry flags flown over the capitol buildings of the states as part of a formal procession to his grave. William Clark’s direct descendant Peyton “Bud” Clark will speak of Lewis and Clark’s enduring friendship and Howell Bowen, Lewis’ collateral descendant, will describe Lewis as a man who sacrificed for his country and died while in its service.
For more information contact Wendy Raney at email@example.com or visit www.lewisandclark.org. For information on the specific details of the ceremony, contact Tony Turnbow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Launches Find Help TN for Tennesseans
FindHelpTN, a Web-based screening tool designed to connect Tennesseans with social service programs and resources, is now available at www.tn.gov/FindHelpTN.
FindHelpTN is a centralized source of information for state and federal assistance programs that includes eligibility screening, application instructions and localized location information for the administering agency.
FindHelpTN takes users through a 10-step questionnaire that covers eligibility criteria ranging from household income and employment status to insured and disability status. Upon completion, users are given a printable report that lists programs for which each member of the household may be eligible along with detailed program information.
Consider Math & Science then Focus on a Career in Tourism
Young Women in Middle School (Grades 5-8) (300 spots) and in High School (Grades 9-12) can participate in a Hands-On Science and Math Conference at Middle Tennessee State University, Saturday, October 31, 2009.
This conference will investigate science & math careers, allow students to talk with women in science & math careers, attend science & math workshops for girls, participate in hands-on activities, meet girls interested in science & math.
The GRITS program, Girls Raised in Tennessee Science and EYH, Expanding Your Horizons are new to the program this year.
Contact Ms. Cacy DeSheles at (615) 494-7763 for information. Registration is limited to 60 high school girls and the fee is $15.00 each. The registration deadline is October 12, 2009. You may complete an on-line registration form on the following:
• EYH Homepage, www.mtsu.edu/eyh
• GRITS Homepage: www.mtsu.edu/grits
• Registration Fee: $12.00
• Registration deadline is October 12, 2009
• Call (615) 904-8253 for details about “registration scholarships”
A strong academic base in math and science can lead to a great career in tourism.
CTTP Class of 09
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Congratulations to 2009 CTTP Class!
The following individuals attended the CTTP certification class during the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and were awarded their certification at the Governor’s luncheon:Linda Bennett, Susan Ford, A.J. Fox, Lori Jenkins, Colleen Coury, Monica Jones, Karin Davis, Tim Knight, Dwana Pusser, Jody Sigler, Ashley Staley, Erin Freeman, Kimberly Bridges, Alice Fleenor, P.J. Morar, Dana Teasley, E.L. Morton, Jay Patel, Timothy Turner, Carla Qualls, Lila Wilson, Saundra Reed.
Shining Example Award to the Tennessee Dept. of Tourist Development
STS recently presented the Shining Example Award to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development for its Sustainable Tourism initiative. Defined as tourism that sustains the environment, historical and cultural heritage of a region, while simultaneously sustaining the economic growth of that region, the department has made great strides in bringing awareness to this issue. Positioned as a leader in sustainable tourism, the department launched Tennessee’s Sustainable Tourism Summit held in honor of Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s 75th Anniversary in 2008, during a two-day period with more than 500 industry leaders participating. Additionally statewide workshops and webinars are taking place, which continue to provide information about this important initiative. The program has been recognized by U.S. Travel Association as a national best practice in sustainable tourism planning and included on the travelgreen.org Web site.
Cherokee History is New Focus
Local tourism entities are working with scholars, citizens and history buffs in a movement that is uncovering new stories and raising awareness of southeast Tennessee’s extremely significant Cherokee history, a part of America’s most important native American past. Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association and the Convention & Visitors Bureau of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce are unveiling new driving trail brochures highlighting the rich Cherokee history and encouraging visitation to the area. The Bradley County brochure is called “ Your Passport to Explore Cherokee Heritage,” and the SETTA brochure is “Southeast Tennessee Cherokee Native American Guide.”
Mother Goose Gives Scholarship
See Rock City, Inc. honored two valuable individuals within the organization – Martha Bell Miller, commonly known as “Mother Goose,” and Brandon Cobos, the recipient of the newly formed Martha Bell Miller Scholarship. The scholarship committee named the award after Martha Bell Miller, a lifelong educator and promoter of character and integrity. The scholarship recipient Brandon Cobos has worked for two years at Rock City in a variety of roles, including retail, the climbing wall and as an official greeter.
Shaw Hospitality and La Quinta Recycle Carpet
Shaw Hospitality Group and La Quinta Inns & Suites partnered together to keep more than 30 tons of carpet from landfills during five renovations in Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida. Shaw Hospitality Group, a manufacturer of sustainable, reclaimable carpets for public/commercial properties, was selected to re-carpet La Quinta guestrooms during a renovation project. Instead of sending tons of the old carpet to area landfills, Shaw Hospitality Group worked with La Quinta to reclaim the carpet and divert it to Shaw Industries’ Evergreen Nylon Recycling Center in Augusta, Ga.
Great Smoky Mountains Selected For Quarters Program
The United States Mint announced recently that the nation will honor Great Smoky Mountains National Park through its new quarter-dollar coin program. The Smokies’ design, yet to be selected, will be the 21st to be featured on coins minted under the America the Beautiful Quarters program and will be issued in 2014.
Jimmy Ogle’s Talks and Tours
Learn all about Memphis history on free walking tours with local historian Jimmy Ogle. The Center City Commission sponsors the tours and currently offers a lunchtime weekday tour and a Super Saturday tour.
Nashville Music Garden Grows
The Nashville Music Garden was officially dedicated on Sept. 29, with Barbara Mandrell and Lynn Anderson, along with many other music notables and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, in a ceremony between the downtown Hilton and the Country Music Hall of Fame. What makes this garden a first? It's planted only with flowers named for songs, singers or things related to Nashville. Mandrell and Pat Bullard, trustee of local charitable group the LifeWorks Foundation, conceived of the garden three years ago as a respite from downtown's concrete and as tribute to the stuff Music City's made of. "I can't think of a bad thing anyone could say about it," said Mandrell, "unless you're allergic." Metro Parks cleared the land for the garden and planted the flowers, and LifeWorks will pay the $10,000-a-year maintenance bill for five years, after which time a Community Foundation fund will write the checks.
Memphis Tourism Foundation Film Screened at Nashville Film Festival
Each night in Memphis, Tennessee, Elmore Nickleberry guides his garbage truck through the streets of downtown — a present-day link to a frequently forgotten chapter in American history, one long eclipsed by the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The story of Nickleberry and the other men and women of the 1968 sanitation strike are told in the short film, I Am Man, produced by the Memphis Tourism Foundation, the philanthrophic arm of the Memphis CVB.
The Memphis film is being screened during the 2009 International Black Film Festival of Nashville. The event, at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center and Regal Cinema Opry Mills 20 & IMAX, concludes on Sunday, October 4th. A complete list of screenings and workshops are at www.ibffnashville.com.
Tourism Industry honors Roger Brashears
Roger Brashears and
Long-time employee of Jack Daniel’s Distillery and Welcome Center, Roger Brashears received praise and honors recently at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. With his wife, Rosemary by his side, Roger watched a video produced by the Tennessee Department of Tourism of his many years of activity in the hospitality industry and received a scrapbook full of pictures and good wishes, including a letter from former Gov. Ned McWherter. Gov. Phil Bredesen honored him with a Certificate of Appreciation. He received the inaugural Excalibur Award from the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable. Roger recently retired from full-time duty at the distillery and will serve as a consultant for special events. We wish him a happy transition.
Quote of the Month
Even though they are paid differently, everyone has to feel appreciated.
- Roger Staubach, former NFL Quarterback
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You