a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker

By the end of the year, we will have well over 100 markers installed throughout the state 

Featured Article

Perry & Cocke Counties Rooted in Growth

Perry County Creates Model Economic Recovery Program

Commissioner Susan Whitaker accepted Linden Mayor Jim Azbill’s invitation to speak to students participating in Vision Perry, a special initiative within the summer YOUTHHire program. YOUTHHire is sponsored by South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance and funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act...

Read more

SHOWCASE

National Civil Rights Museum hosts prestigious Sites of Conscience Annual Summit

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis hosted the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience Annual Summit in June. This was the first time the event was held at a Site of Conscience in the United States....

Read more

Governor’s Conference Seminars are Cutting-Edge

Outstanding educational seminars on cutting-edge topics, with practical application for the tourism industry are always a highlight of the annual Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism. This year’s conference, which will be held September 16-18 in Murfreesboro, is no exception!

The line-up for this year’s educational seminars includes:

Play Tennessee’s Statewide...

Read more

Tennessee Civil War Trails Welcomes New Sites

Greene County will unveil six new Civil War Trails markers on Tuesday, Aug. 4. Sites include the Andrew Johnson Museum & Library on the Tusculum College campus and other significant sites in the area. With this installation, Greene County will hold the second largest collection of Civil War Trails markers...

Read more

Sustainable Tourism Webinars

Geo-Green Webinars, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, continue to provide significant information as part of the Tennessee Sustainable Tourism Initiative. The webinars are offered via the Internet - no travel required, and no cost to participate.

There will...

Read more

Discover Tennessee Trails

The tourism department will soon launch Discover Tennessee Trails, a statewide trails program encompassing all 95 counties. (There’s a chance you’ve heard rumblings already!) The scope of this trails initiative is one of the most comprehensive programs to be developed by the tourism office.

Fourteen trails have been routed across...

Read more

Mark Your Calendar for Sales Tax Holiday

The fourth annual Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday is scheduled for Friday, August 7 and continuing through Sunday, August 9. The Department of Revenue reminds Tennessee shoppers that the Sales Tax Holiday provides three full days of tax breaks on clothing, school and art supplies, and computer purchases.

The holiday begins...

Read more

The National Preservation Conference Comes to Nashville

The National Trust for Historic Preservation will hold its’ annual conference in Nashville October 13-17. This year's theme, "Sustaining the Future in Harmony With Our Pasts", spotlights preservation's role in fighting climate change and fostering sustainable development. Plenary sessions, workshops, and field sessions are part of the program, including speakers...

Read more

Highway 66 Widening Project in Sevier County Begins

TDOT Keeping Motorists Informed with Highway 66 Web site and Twitter Page

The most expensive highway project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Tennessee is now underway. Construction crews began widening a four mile section of Highway 66 in Sevier County, July 27. When completed, the $38.7...

Read more

Facts & Trends

U.S. Travel Releases Industry Performance Indicators

The Industry Performance Indicators are now available at U.S. Travel Association’s online report - U.S. Travel Outlook. This is a must-read report from Dr. Suzanne Cook, U.S. Travel's senior vice president of research. It examines current industry trends and forecasts and includes the U.S....

Read more

Welcome Center

Employee of the Month

Ken Olinger was primarily responsible for the outstanding work on the entrances at the I-81 Sullivan County (Bristol) Welcome Center. Thanks to his dedication to details and craftsmanship, the entrance to the Center has been restored to near original condition. Ken's hard work has earned...

Read more

Industry Applause

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

Governor Bredesen Approves 22 Main Street Innovation Grants

Governor Phil Bredesen approved $330,000 in Main Street Innovation Grants for 22 of Tennessee’s Main Street Programs. Each participating community will receive $15,000 with which to develop or...

Read more

Dear Tourism Partners,

Each month I address this newsletter to each of you as one of our tourism partners because I am convinced that it is our partnerships that will enable us to have the greatest success in both good times and bad. When we do a good job leveraging our tourism assets and dollars, we create the biggest bang for our increasingly precious buck.

For that very reason, I’d like to take a few moments to brag on you and some of the innovative ways you are creating new business for your communities through partnerships, both big and small.

Tammy Kinser, director of Tourism in Greeneville, recently put together a seven-partner, full page co-op ad in the new Appalachian Quilt Trail brochure. This past week, more than 4,500 of these brochures were distributed at the Quilt Expo in Knoxville, and one of the partners, Hattie Kinsey with Hemlock Hollow Farm and Shoppe, has already received a phone call and reservations from a couple in Alabama – more than paying for her participation in the brochure. This is just one example of the many excellent partnership programs taking place across the state – Bravo!

:pullquote:I also want to congratulate those communities that have already participated in our Civil War Trails Program. By the end of the year, we will have well over 100 markers installed throughout the state. Recently, Moscow and Gallatin held formal installations with great community support.  The Trails program is a proven marketing tool for large metropolitan areas, as well as small towns and rural regions.  Please contact Noell Rembert at Noell.Rembert@tn.gov for more information on how your community can participate in this highly effective tourism marketing program.

Tennessee continues to be in the national spotlight, helping to keep us top of mind for travelers.  Recently, Grand Ole Opry stars Charlie Pride, Alison Krauss and Brad Paisley, as well as announcer Eddie Stubbs, performed at the White House as part of the White House Summer Music Series program. Our famous Food Channel stars, the Neely’s of Memphis, were featured on CBS’s “The Early Show,” which also did a story on Pigeon Forge’s new Zorb attraction. 

Pigeon Forge and Dolly were featured on The Learning Channel’s “18 Kids & Counting: The Dugger Family,” as well as NBC’s  “Today Show.” The 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park continues to garner national press, including the cover of the travel section of USA Today, America’s largest newspaper. Congratulations to everyone involved in getting these great stories out to the world.

Whether it’s state government, large cities or small towns, the challenge for all of us is to stay on top of all the latest in tourism trends, research, marketing strategies and tools in order to create optimum success in our industry.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am really looking forward to the 2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism.  This year’s conference is truly a must-attend event, held in Murfreesboro, Sept. 16-18 at the beautiful, new Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center.  The Conference features the preeminent expert in national travel and tourism, Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, who will share the current challenges, policies, and outlook for the tour and travel industry.

We will also hear from Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for U.S. Travel, who is the undisputed voice on research trends for the industry. For a complete run-down of topics and speakers, go to www.tenntourismroundtable.com.  

As a special FREE bonus for all Governor’s Conference registrants who are not very “techy” (and I count myself in that group!), the Super Seminar, pre-conference session on Wednesday afternoon will feature a hands-on session on social media and its use in tourism, led by Hannah Paramore of Paramore/Redd Online Marketing.  This is an especially important session for those programs with limited advertising budgets. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and other networks can certainly pump up the volume on your destination campaigns.  Even if you are a social media whiz kid, you will undoubtedly learn something new – don’t miss it!

The Tennessee Hospitality Association’s annual conference begins on Thursday, Aug. 13 in Nashville, where I have been asked to address the opening session on sustainable tourism. I greatly appreciate the opportunity THA has provided to update their membership on how sustainability makes both dollars and sense.

Thanks to each of you for all of your hard work this summer. Remember to send them home with a smile!  I look forward to seeing you in Murfreesboro in September.

Warmest regards,


Susan Whitaker

P.S. Don’t forget to take advantage of Tennessee’s fourth annual State Tax Holiday, Aug. 7-9, 2009. The special tax break will provide significant financial relief for back-to-school supplies, as well as other items for families – something we all can use!

 

 

 

a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Featured Article 

Perry & Cocke Counties Rooted in Growth

Perry County Creates Model Economic Recovery Program

Commissioner Susan Whitaker accepted Linden Mayor Jim Azbill’s invitation to speak to students participating in Vision Perry, a special initiative within the summer YOUTHHire program. YOUTHHire is sponsored by South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance and funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.

The Commissioner spent the day in Linden visiting with students and community leaders involved in the project. Sixty-five youth employees were hired to work on community development projects. Essentially, the economic revitalization and youth empowerment program was designed to address and conquer the severe economic issues of Perry County. Under YOUTHHire, Perry County students have received experiential job training and career building classes, many of them tourism related.

Commissioner Whitaker Speaks to
Vision Perry Students

"Vision Perry has provided great opportunities for both the county and the participants of the program. It is a win-win situation for all involved," said Whitaker. "It is great to see the amazing achievement by the youth of Perry County as well as their dedication to the projects in addition to their pride and loyalty to their community.”

During a walking tour of the town square, Whitaker visited Hotel Commodore, local shops and other businesses. The students presented their community art, journalism and Web site projects to her. The staff of young people age 14-24 were successful in completing a full-scale downtown beautification project as well as working on Web site and Web commerce development and other research projects.

Additional projects included the creation of public art, which no doubt enhanced the city of Linden on August 1 for Linden’s Summer Jam Arts Fest. This event was an outgrowth of Linden’s recent revitalization, thanks to the Vision Perry project.

Vision Perry Students Paint Mural

"Vision Perry has been the best thing that has happened in Perry County in quite some time. We have an exceptional leadership team in place and the art that our young folks have produced is outstanding, not only in quality but also in quantity. Visitors to Perry County will be raving when they leave," said Linden's Mayor Jim Azbill.

Perry County, though economically distressed, is giving new meaning to teamwork. The citizens of Perry County are not only working hard to overcome these obstacles, they are setting a positive example for rest of the country. Most recently the initiative caught the attention of The New York Times, the nation’s largest metropolitan newspaper. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/28/us/28county.html

Cocke County An Investment In The Future

Across the state in Northeast Tennessee, another group of students are getting the experience of a lifetime. “As part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, thousands of youth nationwide are having a summer job experience they will never forget. They are working 32 hours a week for six weeks,” said Linda Lewanski, Tourism Director of Cocke County Partnership’s Tourism Department in Newport.

One such worker is Jessi O’Lear, a marketing and PR major at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City and this summer’s paid intern for Cocke County’s Tourism Dept. Lewanski sees this experience as a six week “marketing college” where O’Lear can learn, first hand, the jobs of a tourism director in an active community.Lewanski has learned from O’Lear as well. “Jessi has really opened-up the aspects of social networking to me. We are so thankful for this program,” Lewanski states. “Who knows, she may someday be sitting in my tourism chair.”

Lewanski and O'Lear

O’Lear has shadowed Lewanski nearly everywhere including to Tourism Day at the Hartford Welcome Center, meetings at the chamber, Keep Cocke County Beautiful, the 100th anniversary of Christi Mission, filming “Get Real,” the department’s monthly tourism cable TV program plus numerous other activities. She has assisted in grant applications, customer service, and general office work.

“I’ve had such a great learning experience,” said Jessi. “I had no idea there was so much involved in the process and that marketing is really lots of actions, not just sitting there writing something. It’s getting out and interacting with folks.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created more than 11,000 jobs for young people between the ages of 14 and 24 across Tennessee. Many of them got the experience of tourism first hand and now will perhaps consider this important industry as a career, simply because of a summer job.

SHOWCASE

National Civil Rights Museum hosts prestigious Sites of Conscience Annual Summit

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis hosted the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience Annual Summit in June. This was the first time the event was held at a Site of Conscience in the United States.

More than 15 countries participated in the event including Chile, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Senegal, Argentina and United States. Also on hand were the Ambassador to the U.S., Argentina, Hector Timerman and Doudou Diene, former United Nations Special Rapporteur. This event helped to showcase NCRM as a major site in the world where tragedy occurred and now stands as a stalwart edifice for educational opportunity and a place of human transformation in hearts and minds.

These sites may tell stories of mass atrocity or daily, individual struggles. They may preserve cultural or environmental resources. Each in their own way, Sites of Conscience seek to serve as significant new tools for building lasting cultures of human rights and democracy.

The event provided a significant distinction for the museum, the city of Memphis, the state of Tennessee and the nation. Beverly Robertson, president of the National Civil Rights Museum said, “We were honored to host this prestigious event that provided sensitive and thought-provoking dialog about human interaction through tragedy or daily challenges.“ Organizations that partnered with the National Civil Rights Museum included the Memphis CVB, the University of Memphis, the city of Memphis and the state of Tennessee.

Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker praised the Museum for hosting such an appropriate event and all the participants from the various countries representing specific sites. In addition to the National Civil Rights Museum, she spoke of her travels to Israel and the message the Holocaust Museum etched in her mind was a quote from Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” She went on to explain that the Sites of Conscience Annual Summit is proof that good people are doing something to prevent the triumph of evil.

Governor’s Conference Seminars are Cutting-Edge

Outstanding educational seminars on cutting-edge topics, with practical application for the tourism industry are always a highlight of the annual Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism. This year’s conference, which will be held September 16-18 in Murfreesboro, is no exception!

The line-up for this year’s educational seminars includes:

Play Tennessee’s Statewide Collaboration and Other Sports Marketing Strategies: Regardless of whether you’re a small, large, rural or urban destination, amateur sports is a market segment you can attract. This seminar will consist of a team of experts who will present Play Tennessee’s sales and marketing plan and coach you through the steps that can make you a winner in this arena.

Tourism Way-Finding and Signage: Once you have a attracted a visitor to your destination, how well can they find their way around? This seminar will provide you with the in and outs of developing and funding well thought-out and effective way-finding and visitor signage programs.

Attracting the Meetings and Conference Market: This seminar will be led by a group of professional meeting planners who will share what they’re looking for in today’s market and will offer specific tips on how small, mid-size and even rural communities can attract their share of the meetings market.

Success Stories in Agritourism: Over the past several years, agritourism programs in Tennessee have achieved great success in building farm income and expanding tourism in rural communities. This seminar will present case studies of successful agritourism initiatives, as well as provide practical advice on how they can work in your community.

Developing an ROI Measurement Program on a Budget: Key to the success of securing tourism development funding is the ability to clearly demonstrate the excellent return on investment communities realize when they invest in tourism. This seminar will provide you with simple, inexpensive ways to demonstrate the economic impact of tourism in your community.

Time-Honored and Cutting-Edge PR That Works: It’s harder than ever to get your destination’s story told – but it’s still possible to do it effectively. This seminar will present public relations strategies that utilize both traditional and contemporary methods to reach media editors and writers and, through them, the traveling public.

Discover Tennessee Trails: This seminar will present details of tourism’s soon-to-be-launched Discover Tennessee Trails, a statewide trails program encompassing all 95 counties and one of the most comprehensive programs to be developed by the tourism office. Fourteen trails have been routed across the state and will promote a wide range of tourism assets. Three statewide themed trails will showcase Tennessee’s music, motorcycle and Civil War trails.

Social Networking Basics: Social networking is emerging as one of the most effective ways to drive visitors to your destination. This session, designed for those who are unable to attend the Super Seminar on Wednesday, September 16, or who just desire to learn more about the subject, will provide the basics of a successful social marketing plan.

Combined with outstanding keynote speakers, the annual Tourism EXPO, and entertaining social and networking opportunities, this year’s conference is definitely a “don’t miss” event for the Tennessee Tourism Industry!

Information on the 2009 Governor’s Conference, including registration and lodging information, can be found on the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable Web site at www.tenntourismroundtable.com.

Tennessee Civil War Trails Welcomes New Sites

Greene County will unveil six new Civil War Trails markers on Tuesday, Aug. 4. Sites include the Andrew Johnson Museum & Library on the Tusculum College campus and other significant sites in the area. With this installation, Greene County will hold the second largest collection of Civil War Trails markers in the state. Williamson County has installed the largest number of markers.

During July, the Civil War Trails program welcomed new additions in two Tennessee towns when Gallatin and Moscow both unveiled markers. On July 13, Gallatin cut the ribbon on markers at Trousdale Place and the Public Square, while the citizens of Moscow gathered at City Hall on July 25 to dedicate their historical marker.

Gallatin’s Trousdale Place, sponsored by the Clark Chapter #13 United Daughters of the Confederacy, was the home of former Governor William Trousdale. The City of Gallatin sponsored the marker at the Public Square, which depicts the significance of Sumner County and the square during the war. The town of Moscow tells the story of a confrontation between forces as the Confederate Army attempted to burn the railroad bridge over the Wolf River, which the Union army was protecting.

Momentum is constantly growing for marker installation across the state. By the end of the year, the Department of Tourist Development expects to have installed more than 100 historical markers across the state. The next two rounds of installations will take place during August and October, with the first map-guide being published near 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 noell.rembert@tn.gov or call 615-532-8077.

Sustainable Tourism Webinars

Geo-Green Webinars, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, continue to provide significant information as part of the Tennessee Sustainable Tourism Initiative. The webinars are offered via the Internet - no travel required, and no cost to participate.

There will be two webinars in August. On Aug. 11, the focus will be Green Lodging, and on Aug. 20, the subject will be EcoTourism - Who is Doing it Right, and What Does it Take?

The Green Lodging webinar, Aug. 11, will feature three hotel General Managers: David Rossman, Atlanta Doubletree; Steven Andre, The Hutton Hotel - Nashville and Bill Mish, Doubletree Chattanooga. Simply login to register at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/775777155 and receive a confirmation e-mail with a password and details to login to the webinar, Aug. 11.

The Eco-Tourism webinar, Aug. 20, will feature Dobbin Callahan, president of Skye Con Environmental Consulting, as well as a representative from the National Geographic's Center for Sustainable Destinations and several other well-known experts in the field of Eco-Tourism. To register, visit https://www2.gotomeeting.com/pjoin/578759099/105307355.

The Geo-Green webinars are online at www.Gotomeeting.com and moderated by Rene Welti, president of America Live, Inc. and publisher of ECHO Encounters. Each webinar will run approximately 45 minutes with a 15 minute question and answer session.

An individual can participate in the webinar from one’s office, home or anywhere a person has access to the Internet and a phone. The Geo-Green webinars will provide the opportunity to interact with national speakers on the topic of sustainable tourism.

To learn more about Tennessee's Sustainable Tourism initiative, visit our Web site at www.tnsustainabletourism.com or www.tnvacation.com/green.

Discover Tennessee Trails

The tourism department will soon launch Discover Tennessee Trails, a statewide trails program encompassing all 95 counties. (There’s a chance you’ve heard rumblings already!) The scope of this trails initiative is one of the most comprehensive programs to be developed by the tourism office.

Fourteen trails have been routed across the state and will promote all tourism assets including attractions, culinary, state parks, history, museums, scenic beauty, shopping, agritourism, outdoor sports and recreation, and more.

Tourism will work in partnership with state parks to highlight Tennessee’s 53 award-winning parks and 77 natural areas along the trails.

Three statewide themed trails will showcase Tennessee’s music, motorcycle and Civil War trails.

Jennifer Spence, assistant commissioner of marketing, will travel throughout the state meeting with tourism partners, providing additional trail details and receiving partner input. For partners unable to attend a meeting, Spence will host a special seminar at Governor’s Conference in Murfreesboro to present the trails program. Don’t miss this important session on Discover Tennessee Trails.

Marketing and promotion of the trails will include extensive Web site coverage on tnvacation.com, four-color brochures on each of the 17 trails, a special 21 page section in the 2010 Tennessee Vacation Guide providing maps and trail information for the guide’s more than 500,000 readers and a major PR campaign announcing the trails launch. Partnership opportunities with TDOT are currently being explored.

Unique to this trails concept is that the starting point of each trail is in one of Tennessee’s “suns” – Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Smoky Mountain Region. What began with a gem of an idea from a tourism colleague caught on as a way to encourage city visitors to experience some of the state’s other tourism-rich small towns and off-the- beaten-path areas.

Discover Tennessee Trails will cast a wide net across Tennessee’s tourism industry, placing a jam-packed, pre-planned itinerary into the hands of visitors and making it easy to, quite literally, Discover Tennessee.

Mark Your Calendar for Sales Tax Holiday

The fourth annual Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday is scheduled for Friday, August 7 and continuing through Sunday, August 9. The Department of Revenue reminds Tennessee shoppers that the Sales Tax Holiday provides three full days of tax breaks on clothing, school and art supplies, and computer purchases.

The holiday begins Friday, August 7 at 12:01 a.m. and ends Sunday, August 9 at 11:59 p.m. During the designated three-day weekend, consumers will not pay state or local sales tax on select clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less, a savings of nearly 10 percent on exempt items.

Please visit the Sales Tax Holiday Web site at www.tntaxholiday.com to learn more about the items exempt from sales tax. The Tennessee Department of Revenue also assists consumers via e-mail, Salestax.Holiday@TN.gov, and through its toll-free statewide telephone hot line, (800) 342-1003. Staff is available to answer questions Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. (Out-of-state and Nashville-area callers, please dial (615) 253-0600.)

The National Preservation Conference Comes to Nashville

The National Trust for Historic Preservation will hold its’ annual conference in Nashville October 13-17. This year's theme, "Sustaining the Future in Harmony With Our Pasts", spotlights preservation's role in fighting climate change and fostering sustainable development. Plenary sessions, workshops, and field sessions are part of the program, including speakers Bill McKibben, author of the best-selling Deep Economy, and Dame Fiona Reynolds of the U.K. National Trust, who will address sustainability in preservation of historic sites.

On Wednesday, October 14, Dr. Van West, executive director of the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU and the TN Civil War National Heritage Area, will moderate a panel on "Building an Ethic for Sustainability at the Local Level" featuring TN tourism partners and showcasing case studies from each region of Tennessee. On Thursday, October 15, Commissioner Whitaker, along with Dr. Van West, will conduct a session on "Why Sustainable Tourism Makes Both Dollars and Sense.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a non-profit membership organization bringing people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them. With headquarters in Washington, DC, nine regional and field offices, 29 historic sites, and partner organizations in all 50 states, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to a national network of people, organizations and local communities committed to saving places, connecting us to our history and collectively shaping the future of America's stories

This conference is a must-attend for any tourism partner interested in preservation and sustainability. For registration information go to www.preservationnation.org/resources/training/npc/.

Highway 66 Widening Project in Sevier County Begins

TDOT Keeping Motorists Informed with Highway 66 Web site and Twitter Page

The most expensive highway project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Tennessee is now underway. Construction crews began widening a four mile section of Highway 66 in Sevier County, July 27. When completed, the $38.7 million project will widen the existing highway from four lanes to six lanes including shoulders, curb and gutter and sidewalks, from Boyds Creek Highway (SR-338) to SR-448 in Sevierville. Highway 66, also known as the Great Smoky Mountains Parkway, is the main artery into the popular tourist destinations of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With more than nine million visitors last year, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country.

“Highway 66 is a very busy route especially during peak travel seasons as vacationers make their way into Sevier County,” said TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges. “The improvements we are making with these Recovery Act funds will help reduce congestion and improve safety on Highway 66.”

TDOT has added a new Web site address to keep motorists informed about the Highway 66 project. Residents, businesses and motorists are encouraged to visit www.improving66.com to stay up to date on project developments. The Web page contains up to date traffic information, project maps and frequently ask questions. Motorists can also know before they go by signing up to follow the Highway 66 project on twitter at www.twitter.com/improving66 or @improving66 if you already have a twitter account.

U.S. Travel Releases Industry Performance Indicators

The Industry Performance Indicators are now available at U.S. Travel Association’s online report - U.S. Travel Outlook. This is a must-read report from Dr. Suzanne Cook, U.S. Travel's senior vice president of research. It examines current industry trends and forecasts and includes the U.S. Travel Dashboard. Click here for this important research information: http://ustravel.org/resources/Outlook/09/July.htm

Staycation in Webster’s

“Staycation” has been officially added to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

King College and Walters State Community College/Sevierville Announce Hospitality Partnership


Through a new articulation agreement between King College in Bristol, Tennessee and Walters State’s Sevierville campus, King College will offer junior and senior-level courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in business administration with specialization in hospitality management. Walters State currently offers a two-year associate degree program in hotel and restaurant management. Walters State students who complete their degrees will be able to transfer seamlessly into King College's Graduate and Professional Studies program and complete their bachelor's degree. The program begins this fall at Walters State in Sevierville. For more information, call King College at 423-652-4861 or Joe Fall at Walters State at 865-774-5814.


Commissioner Whitaker with
2009 Class of Leadership Sevier

Leading in Economic Fashion

In July, Commissioner Whitaker was invited by Tennessee State Senator Doug Overbey to address the 2009 class of Leadership Sevier. The theme was “economic development” so members of Senator Overbey’s team sported green “money talks” shirts at the event. On the back was a special message geared toward tourism.

Tennessee Groves Program Launched at Welcome Centers

Governor Phil Bredesen joined TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker at the Bristol, Tennessee Welcome Center on June 30th to launch Tennessee Groves, a program that provides people with a way to memorialize loved ones, commemorate special events and beautify the state. The program is a partnership between TDOT and the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council.

During the ceremony, Bredesen joined Nicely and TDOT’s Region One HELP crew to plant the first Tennessee Groves flowers in honor of Eddie Newcomb, a HELP Supervisor in Knoxville who died in May 2009.

Beginning in the fall of 2009, individuals or groups may purchase trees or flowers for planting at one of four Welcome Centers in the state: I-81 in Bristol, I-55 in Memphis, I-75 in Chattanooga and I-65 in Giles County south of Nashville. Each donor will receive a certificate denoting the type of tree or flower to be planted, the donor’s name and the name of the person or event being honored. Individual trees will not be labeled; however, the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council will inscribe the names of both the honorees and the donors in a book at each Tennessee Groves site. Trees will be planted each year between November and March which is the optimum time for tree planting.

Gov. Bredesen waters plant at Groves
launching, with some special assistance.

“Our Welcome Centers are the front doors to our state and the Tennessee Groves program will create a stunning entry into Tennessee,” said Whitaker. “We are pleased to work with TDOT and the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council to create beautiful gateways into the volunteer state that will also honor Tennessee citizens.”

“Tennessee Groves is a good alternative to roadside memorials,” said TDOT Chief of Environment and Planning Ed Cole. “Placing a memorial along a busy roadway is dangerous to both the person placing the memorial and passing motorists. In contrast, Tennessee Groves is a safe, lasting and legal way to honor and remember a loved one.”

For more information on the Tennessee Groves program or to purchase a tree or flower, please visit: www.tdot.state.tn.us/environment/beautification/tngroves.htm

Welcome Center

Employee of the Month

Ken Olinger was primarily responsible for the outstanding work on the entrances at the I-81 Sullivan County (Bristol) Welcome Center. Thanks to his dedication to details and craftsmanship, the entrance to the Center has been restored to near original condition. Ken's hard work has earned him the Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for July 2009.

A Building Maintenance Worker II at the Bristol Center, Ken is in his eighth year with the Department of Tourist Development.

"Ken is instrumental to our operation and a perfectionist in his work at the Welcome Center, whether it is mowing, cleaning or even refinishing the woodwork at the Welcome Center," said Jim Bibee, Bristol Welcome Center Manager.

With 3,009,915 visitors in 2007, the Bristol Center is currently the busiest of all Tennessee Welcome Centers. Rebuilt in 2001, the Center serves those traveling along the far northeastern section of our state.

Industry Applause

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

Governor Bredesen Approves 22 Main Street Innovation Grants

Governor Phil Bredesen approved $330,000 in Main Street Innovation Grants for 22 of Tennessee’s Main Street Programs. Each participating community will receive $15,000 with which to develop or continue innovative projects, programs, activities and/or technology that exemplify good downtown revitalization practices following the Main Street “four point approach to revitalization.”

Nashville Farmers Market

Local Farmers Markets a “Growing” Business

August 2- 8 marks the 10th annual National Farmers Market Week, and Tennessee could easily serve as the heart of the national celebration. There are approximately 84 farmers markets currently in operation across the state. Farmer's Markets are sprouting up everywhere and thriving, thanks to a growing appreciation for sustainably produced, locally grown food.

Golf Digest Rates Gatlinburg As Tennessee’s Best Municipal Course

Gatlinburg Golf Course has been selected as the Best Municipal Golf Course in the State of Tennessee, as published in the August issue of Golf Digest magazine. Using a combination of star ratings from Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” rankings and the magazine’s “Best In State” ratings, a panel of Golf Digest contributors and editors ranked the “Best Muny Course” in each state.

Barbara Mandrell Makes TV Appearance On NPT'S "Volunteer Gardener"

Barbara Mandrell will make a television appearance to support her latest project, the Nashville Music Garden. Located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Demonbreun (in the Hall of Fame Park just across the street from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center), the 2,700-square-foot public garden honors those that have made a positive impact on Nashville's entertainment industry. "Volunteer Gardener" also airs across Tennessee on select PBS stations including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Martin and Cookeville (check local listings for show times). "I feel truly blessed to be part of the Nashville Music Garden. The garden will both add to the beautification of Music City as well as honor Nashville's best!" explains Mandrell. An avid gardener herself, the Nashville Music Garden has been Mandrell's passion project for more than three years.

Appalachian Quilt Trails a Hit

The Appalachian Quilt Trail brochures are now available and more than 4,500 were distributed at the Quilt Expo in Knoxville. Various partners in the area including the General Morgan Inn, Myers Pumpkin Patch and the Tennessee Agritourism Association partnered to produce a full page ad that not only is impressive but has already generated significant leads.

Casey Jones Railroad Museum

Woofstock Going to the Dogs

Casey Jones Village will be the site of a daylong celebration of all things dogs and cats with "Woofstock ‘09 - A Rally to Rescue". Woofstock is sponsored by Companion Pet Rescue & Transport of West Tennessee based in Jackson and Loving Paws rescue group from Luray in Chester County. The purpose of Woofstock is to increase community awareness and educate the public of the need for spay/neuter and rabies vaccinations as well as the increasing concern of dogs and cats needing to be rescued.

Welcome Center Compliments

Jellico Welcome Center

Recently received compliments from tourists on our security guard service at the Welcome Centers.

"Professional looking security watching around...felt safe. Thank you!"

"Security guard was very polite and helpful."

"I was impressed at the security man's presence. We don't have that service in Illinois. The gentleman was so friendly and informative."

"The security guard was very nice to my family and kids! Helpful, too!"

"Glad to see your security! Wonderful!"

Quote of the Month

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You