Let me begin by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with all those across Tennessee and our neighboring states who have been personally and tragically affected by the deadly storms that have ravaged the South. Just as so many did last year, I know the people of this state will stand with those who must deal with the staggering reality of lost loved ones and property destruction, providing help wherever and however it is needed. That’s just who we are as Tennesseans.
Already the tourism industry has begun to respond. I received an email from Bill Hardman, president and CEO of the Southeast Tourism Society, offering their condolences and assistance to the people of Tennessee. Greg Adkins, CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association, has engaged his members in plans for providing assistance in the coming weeks. We will keep you up to date on what tourism partners are doing to help.
On a positive note, the tourism industry in Tennessee has had a very strong first quarter, heralding economic growth for communities across the state. To ensure that this continues, the Department of Tourist Development has been engaged with all of our creative agencies in a major review and planning process. All of the agencies — White|Thompson, Paramore|Redd, Designsensory and Miles Media — have been at the table, working collaboratively with our team to find the most effective and efficient strategies to meet the goal: “More Visitors, Staying Longer, Spending More.”
Thank you for all you do to keep Tennessee on the wish list of so many people from around the world. It’s working! In an April 26 article in USA TODAY, it was reported foreign Visa cardholders spent more last year in 48 of the 50 states. States with the biggest percentage growth last year included Tennessee with a 33 percent increase! Congratulations, Tennessee Tourism – you are rocking the world!
This year’s National Travel and Tourism Week is May 7-15. This important event provides a wonderful opportunity to join with other colleagues from across the country to celebrate the importance of tourism, both as an economic driver and as a dynamic jobs creation vehicle. This year’s theme “Why Travel Matters” can easily be answered in Tennessee. The tourism industry is a $13.3 billion economic engine to Tennessee, having generated more than $1 billion in state and local taxes for the past four years and contributing to the quality of life for all Tennesseans.
Tennessee continues to commemorate its significant and fascinating Civil War history during this Sesquicentennial period. Last month, I joined Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan and other dignitaries in dedicating their beautiful Fort Defiance Interpretive Center. A Civil War trail marker will soon be installed at this location, connecting it to hundreds of other sites along the very popular Tennessee Civil War Trail.
In addition, the second in Tennessee’s five-part Sesquicentennial Civil War Documentary Series, “Civil War Songs and Stories,” is scheduled to air May 18 and 27 on Nashville’s PBS station, WNPT. Native Tennessean actor David Keith narrates the documentary which portrays the important role music had among soldiers. This is an especially important topic for Tennessee, with our rich musical heritage. The Sesquicentennial Commission is the key sponsor of this series, produced by the Renaissance Center in Dickson. If you are in the WNPT market reach, I hope you will tune in to this special presentation.
Memorial Day is fast approaching and, with that, the official start of tourism’s busiest season. As you work hard to provide our guests with a memorable summer vacation, I hope you will take time to enjoy some of Tennessee’s remarkable vacation fun for yourself. You deserve it!
Warm wishes for a great summer!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Tennessee to Celebrate 2011 National 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 2011 National Travel and Tourism Week, May 7-15. This year’s theme for the week is “Why Travel Matters,” 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 Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Tennessee’s award-winning state parks and many more.
Tennessee tourism generates a $13.3 billion 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 generated $1.8 trillion in economic output for the U.S. economy in 2010. The industry also represents one of America’s largest employers, supporting 14.1 million jobs (including 7.4 million directly in the travel industry and 6.7 million in other industries). Direct spending by domestic and international travelers averaged $2 billion a day, $86.6 million an hour, $1.4 million a minute and $24,000 a second.
For more information about welcome center activities during Tourism Week, contact the Department of Tourist Development’s Director of Welcome Centers,Barry Young, at (615) 741-9035 or at Barry.W.Young@tn.gov.
Tennessee Sampler Express = Success!
How do you spell success? For Tennessee Tourism partners it is Tennessee Sampler Express!
This year, more than 50 tourism partners from all across the state participated in the Tennessee Sampler Express April 5-7. Eight sales teams and three PR teams conducted calls to AAA offices, tour operators and media agents. They visited 30 different markets in 12 states and held more than 125 meetings, generating quite a bit of interest and new business for Tennessee tourism partners. One AAA office was so glad to see the Nashville team they hung a WELCOME NASHVILLE sign on the front door. The West Tennessee PR team was welcomed to one media office with a breakfast buffet as they sat and discussed the many story opportunities in the state. Dave Jones and the North East team received a great welcome in Virginia with tour operators asking for more about Tennessee!
This grassroots and economical approach of Sampler Express allows tourism teams to divide and conquer a number of feeder markets, doing a comprehensive blitz in markets surrounding our state. From St. Louis to New Orleans and Branson to the east coast, the message was Tennessee is THE destination for your next vacation, day trip, story idea and more. Not only did teams discuss the wonderful array of attractions, outdoor adventure and cultural events available in Tennessee, many discussions centered around the new Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program.
The teams returned home exhausted after delivering Tennessee binders, jump drives and goodies, but more determined than ever to share the Tennessee experience as often as they can. Many teams are discussing the possibility of teaming up and continuing the spirit of Sampler Express by doing sales and PR calls together on a quarterly basis. While everyone is reminiscing and still sharing stories about Sampler 2011, just remember, you only have 11 months to get ready for the next Sampler Express success.
I-65 Ardmore Welcome Center Opens with Ribbon Cutting
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Transportation hosted the official grand opening ceremony of the I-65 Ardmore Welcome Centerin Giles County.
In attendance were Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and Deputy Tourism Commissioner Tom Lightsey who offered remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“The Tennessee Department of Transportation and Department of Tourism have a wonderful partnership and offer visitors some of the best Welcome Centers in the country,” said John Schroer, Tennessee Department of Transportation commissioner. “The sustainable design of the new Welcome Center includes geothermal heating and cooling and a solar array.”
Designed as a log cabin and featuring 4,989 square feet, the facility combines the warmth of Tennessee with the modern advantage of new construction.
"The Admore Welcome Center in Giles County offers visitors entering Tennessee via I-65 a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the great destinations in Tennessee," said Deputy Commissioner Tom Lightsey, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. "Tennessee's 14 Welcome Centers exemplify Southern hospitality and service to more than 15 million visitors each year."
Other state and local officials in attendance were State Representative Eddie Bass, Giles County Mayor Janet Vanzant, the City of Ardmore Mayor Tim McConnell and music by David Andersen. Visitors met with exhibitors from The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Dixie Stampede, The Commodore Hotel & Café and many more.
Tennessee has 14 Welcome Centers primarily located along the interstate highway system. The Centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Civil War Update
Civil War Songs and Stories Documentary to Air
Civil War Songs and Stories is scheduled to air May 18 and 27 on Nashville’s PBS station, WNPT. The documentary will highlight the emotional impact music had on soldiers during the Civil War. Actor David Keith, a native Tennessean, will narrate the documentary which portrays the important role of music during the war. From pride and patriotism to death and deceit, Keith shares how music was as much a part of Army life as a musket.
“Armies on both sides were also accompanied by professional regimental brass bands mustered to preserve morale. The music inspired soldiers and consoled them. It brought memories from home and gave hope to what would soon seem to be hopeless circumstances,” Keith said.
Some of the musical line-up includes Crystal Gayle, The Fisk Jubilee Singers and Irish Folk Singer Maura. William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys and Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers will sing “Dixie” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” They will be joined by bass singer, Tim Duncan, Chris Golden (William Lee’s son) and Jimmy Fulbright.
The documentary is the second of five documentaries being funded by Tennessee's Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, MTSU's Center for Historic Preservation, and the Tennessee Department of Education.
“Fundamental to understanding the Civil War era are its many musical legacies, whether the plaintive singing of slaves on the Memphis wharfs, the brass bands of the soldiers, the rousing tunes sung in family parlors or the uplifting voices of promise,” said Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. “Civil War Songs and Stories captures those sounds and memories from the Civil War era.”
For more information on the documentary, please visit wnpt.org.
For more information on Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial events, please visit tncivilwar150.com.
Facts & Trends
Travel Taxes Affect Travel and Spending
The U.S. Travel Association’s new Travel Tax Institute recently conducted a survey on consumer attitudes toward travel taxes. The research revealed that taxation clearly impacts travel planning and spending decisions.
49 percent of travelers say they have altered their plans due to high travel taxes, including staying at less expensive hotels, spending less on shopping and entertainment, and visiting during the off-season.
68 percent of travelers rated hotel taxes as "very high" (35 percent) or "high" (33 percent).
60 percent of travelers said travel taxes should be reinvested in travel infrastructure, such as roads and airports, while 49 percent said "travel/tourism marketing and promotion" also would be an appropriate use of the revenues.
"Travelers are often considered an easy tax target, but few public officials understand how rising travel taxes influence consumer behavior and impact the economy," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "We believe it's important that political leaders see travelers not just as ‘out-of-towners,' but as key supporters of local jobs, businesses and development.”
For additional information, go to www.ustravel.org/government-affairs/tax-institute.
Booking Hotels with Smartphone vs Web Users
Mobile Commerce Daily reports that users of the Priceline smartphone application book more upscale hotels than those who use the company’s “Name Your Own Price” (NYOP) website. But a more surprising finding might be that users of the Hotel and Rental Car Negotiator iPhone, iPad and iPod touch applications wait until the last minute to book a room, sometimes upon arrival at the destination.
82 percent of the app users booked rooms within one day of arrival compared to 45 percent using NYOP.
53 percent were within 20 miles of the hotel when booking and 35 percent were within one mile of their destination.
79 percent of their mobile app users booked only one room-night verses 62 percent of web users.
82 percent stayed in three-star or higher hotels compared to 75 percent of online consumers.
The story quotes John Caine, Senior Vice-President of Priceline saying, “…as smartphone growth continues to surge, this mix will change over time.”
Tennessee Web Assistance Summer Tour
The Web Assistance Summer Tour is your chance to get hands-on assistance with tnvacation.com, T3 deals program, Facebook, tnvacation mobile site, Twitter and more!
A knowledgeable Web team with members from the department’s online agencies and members of the Tourist Development staff will be on hand for one-on-one consultations to help you maximize the online tools available to you as a member of Tennessee’s tourism industry.
Schedule & Location Details
Thursday, June 23, 10 AM – 1 PM ET
East Tennessee History Center, Knoxville
Thursday, June 30, 9:30 AM – 1 PM CT
Natchez Trace State Park Conference Center, Wildersville
Wednesday, July 13, 1 – 4 PM CT
Holiday Inn Express, Crossville
Thursday, July 14, 9 AM – 12:30 PM CT
Fairfield Inn & Suites, Cookeville
To RSVP the date you will attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An unprecedented "Employee of the Month" selection has been made for April. The entire staff of the I-24 Montgomery County (Clarksville) Welcome Center, Rena Caparida, Dontez Copeland, Mary Ferrer, David Kentner, Sandy Lucas, Jerry Peveler, Joseph Peveler, and Arthur Yarbrough, has been operating the Clarksville Welcome Center without a Manager since January 5. For their diligence and efforts, they are April's Employees of the Month.
For the past two months, they have been operating short-handed without a full maintenance crew up until just a few days ago. They have done a great job, pulling together as a team and making improvements to the Welcome Center.
"I am so proud of our Clarksville staff for working together and making the Center look great," said Janice Rich, Welcome Centers Middle Tennessee Regional Manager. "They are very deserving of this honor."
Michael Ross has been hired as the new Clarksville Welcome Center Manager effective May 2.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Tennessee Team Scores Big
Congratulations to the 13 Tennessee representatives attending the National Association of Sports Commissions last week in Greensboro, N.C. The team hit a home run for Tennessee sports. Play Tennessee sponsored a booth and an evening reception for all attendees.
TSU Coach Takes Golf to Big Screen
Taraji P. Henson is taking her acting skills to the golf course. The actress best known for her roles as Shug in Hustle and Flow (2005) and Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2009, will be starring in an upcoming movie entitled From The Rough, a film based on the true story of Catana Starks, a former swim coach at Tennessee State University who became the first woman ever to coach a college men's golf team. The golf coach played by Ms. Henson is tasked with building Tennessee State's first golf team and finding only one available African American golfer.
Tennessee has the #1 Most Requested Civil War Mapguide
More than 1,100 Tennessee Civil War Trails mapguides were downloaded in the past few weeks from civilwartraveler.com!
Fort Defiance Interpretive Center Opens
A once forgotten fort tells a story of war - The Fort Defiance Interpretive Center opened its doors to the public. The center, operated by the city of Clarksville's Parks and Recreation Department, features a number of exhibits that tell the story of one of Clarksville's Civil War forts. There is also nearly a mile of walking trails on site, and city planners hope eventually to connect the trail to the McGregor Park Riverwalk via a bridge over the Red River.
Roberts Now Spokeswoman for Tennessee Fitness
Country music singer Julie Roberts is the new celebrity spokeswoman for the Tennessee Health Department's fitness initiative. "Get Fit Tennessee" is a statewide awareness project designed to address the rising epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and risk factors that lead to diabetes, such as obesity.
State Museum Launches School Hands-On History Project
An educational outreach program which brings hands-on history objects to classrooms across the state has kicked off with a traveling trunk program designed and implemented by the Tennessee State Museum. The program, entitled “Tennessee Traveling Treasures,” doesn’t have a rental fee and provides teachers with trunks filled with real and reproduction artifacts, books, posters, music CDs, film DVDs and other objects to use in their classrooms. They come complete with lesson plans developed by teachers and the museum’s educational staff. There are a total of 35 trunks available to teachers.
Booker T. Washington is Finalists
Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis is one of three finalists in the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge for the opportunity to have President Barack Obama as the keynote speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony.
Nashville Zoo’s Historic Home Wins Two Awards
Nashville Zoo’s historic home was the winner of two awards of excellence at the Tennessee Association of Museums' annual conference. The excellence awards are given for outstanding accomplishments by a Tennessee institution that’s primary purpose includes preservation and/or interpretation in natural history, cultural history, folklore, art or science. Nashville Zoo was honored in the special events category for the 2010 Historic Croft Home bicentennial celebration, and in the audio/visual category for the new home and farm audio tour.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You