Tennessee Tourism Committee Releases Report Outlining Tourism's Untapped Potential To Increase State Revenues

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Governor-appointed Tennessee Tourism Committee, comprised of about two dozen tourism leaders from across the state, on Monday issued the Tennessee Tourism Report, which conclusively demonstrates that significant state investment in tourism marketing is sound public policy with the potential to pay immediate and long-term dividends through job creation and increased tax revenue to fund essential services.

The Tennessee Tourism Report is the culmination of 18 months of unprecedented, statewide collaboration among industry leaders who pooled research and analysis to create industry and visitor profiles and to examine the opportunities that exist for further promoting and developing one of Tennessee’s largest industries.

Key highlights of the report include:  

· With popular, diverse attractions among the various regions of the state and internationally recognized brands, Tennessee attracted 54 million visitors in 2011.  Those visitors spent $15.4 billion, which directly supported 141,400 jobs and helped generate nearly $1.2 billion in state and local taxes.

· Analysis from widely respected economists demonstrates that if Tennessee increases its investment in tourism marketing by $10 million, the state stands to gain up to 9.5 million additional visitors that could generate $1.25 billion in new incremental visitor spending; $185 million in additional taxes; and 65,000 additional jobs.

·  A comprehensive visitor profile showed that well over half of Tennessee visitors come from adjacent states, which is where the state currently focuses existing marketing resources.  Securing additional funding to invest beyond these nearby markets presents an opportunity to leverage Tennessee’s strong brand recognition to attract more lucrative overnight visitors who stay longer and spend more than day visitors.

“The Tennessee Tourism Committee is comprised of individuals who have dedicated much of their lives to the tourism and hospitality industry and who have a deep understanding of the importance of keeping this industry growing and thriving in Tennessee,” said Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties and chairman of the Tennessee Tourism Committee.

“One of the most compelling things we learned from this research process is that we are poised to gain a significant advantage over other states in the coming years if we continue to stand together as a unified industry with a competitively-funded statewide marketing initiative.”

During the State of the State Address on Jan. 28, Governor Bill Haslam proposed an $8 million increase to the state’s tourism marketing budget to support the findings and recommendations of the committee, pending completion of a long-term strategic plan for Tennessee tourism.

“In Tennessee, tourism equals jobs, and we have unique and popular assets across the state. We have to not only work to attract people to specific sites but to also leverage our resources and have a strategic plan to market our state and tourist attractions,” Governor Haslam said. “We included $8 million in the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget proposal for a statewide tourism fund to support the work of the tourism commission, and the industry is already working together in ways that have never happened before.”

At the direction of Governor Haslam, the committee will remain in place to assemble the comprehensive strategic plan for a statewide marketing initiative.

“The committee is very pleased with Governor Haslam’s recent proposal to significantly increase state funding for tourism marketing and is looking forward to working with state officials and the tourism industry to build the strategic marketing plan over the next six months,” said Commissioner of Tourist Development Susan Whitaker.

“We know the industry is enthusiastic to begin the next phase of this process,” continued Mr. Reed. “Tennessee’s businesses and cities have already built a compelling tourism infrastructure by investing billions of dollars in attractions and other tourism-related initiatives. With additional marketing and consumer reach, the state will have an outstanding opportunity for millions of additional travelers to experience our unique tourism product and reputation.”

An electronic copy of the Tennessee Tourism Report, along with more information on the committee and its members, can be downloaded at www.tntourismcommittee.com.  

This Week's Tennessee Tourism Roundup

  Walk through 150,000 blooms, get out in nature, hunt for Easter eggs, fly to Neverland with Peter Pan, experience the first show at the new home for Bluegrass Underground, celebrate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll or see the Violins of Hope, a collection of restored instruments used by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. Here’s ... (click for more)

Etowah Historical Commission Awarded Grant For Digitization Project

The Tennessee State Library and Archives approved a State Board Programming Regrant Award in the amount of $2,300 to the Etowah Historical Commission and City of Etowah to support EHC’s Archives Digitization Project. State Board Programming Regrants are funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a division of the National Archives. The grants are administered ... (click for more)

Corker Slams Massive $1.4 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill

In remarks on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, Thursday slammed the massive $1.4 trillion “omnibus” spending bill, calling it one of the most “grotesque” pieces of legislation he can remember during his two terms in the Senate. Excerpts of his remarks follow.  “I came to the United States Senate almost 12 years ago. I have ... (click for more)

Former Juvenile Court Magistrate Says Gay Marriage Is "Nothing You Put In Air Quotes"

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court, who claims she was fired by Judge Rob Philyaw because she is openly gay, said Wednesday that gay marriage "is nothing you put in air quotes." She referred to County Attorney Rheubin Taylor asking her about her ceremony in marrying another woman and raising his hands to form quote marks. Elizabeth Gentzler is suing Hamilton County, Judge ... (click for more)

Avoid Underage Drinking And Other Prom Drama

My high school prom took a dramatic turn when two guys got their tuxedo jackets mixed up. One of them belonged to my date, who kindly offered to keep my wallet in his pocket. That’s the jacket another young man mistakenly grabbed off the back of a chair before heading to an underage drinking party that got shut down by police well after midnight—as kids scattered in every direction.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Famed Freitas Speech

Several weeks ago a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (that’s what Virginia calls the state legislature) stood up and before that body responded to a claim by a Democratic lawmaker that Republicans were pro-Second Amendment and segregationists. Nick Freitas, who did two tours in Iraq with our Army’s Special Forces and has talked candidly about losing friends to terrorist ... (click for more)