Tennessean Susan Whitaker Named State Tourism Director Of The Year

Monday, August 19, 2013

Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, has been named the State Tourism Director of the Year.

The award is voted upon annually by the U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors. Ms. Whitaker was announced as the winner before about 600 of her peers Monday at the ESTO conference of tourism professionals in Richmond, Va.

“Susan is a wonderful representative for Tennessee. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her on any number of critical travel issues and always appreciate her insight,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Susan gets it. She appreciates the power of travel to benefit communities, businesses and individuals. This tremendous recognition by Susan’s peers reflects her passion for travel, and I know we all look forward to her many future contributions.”

Ms. Whitaker’s selection drew immediate praise from top dignitaries in her home state.

“This honor is well-deserved,” said Governor Bill Haslam. “Susan and her staff bring innovative ideas and vision to Tennessee’s thriving tourism industry, and the accomplishments under her leadership will have a lasting impact on Tennessee."

“Susan is not only a friend of mine but she’s one of the best friends that our Tennessee tourism industry has ever known,” said entertainer Dolly Parton, formerly Ms. Whitaker’s boss at Dollywood, Tennessee’s most-visited tourist attraction. “Susan makes sure that the welcome mat is always out for folks who want to visit our great state, and I appreciate her enthusiasm, dedication, and get-it-done attitude!”

Ms. Whitaker’s major accomplishments for Tennessee include the launch of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program which features 16 comprehensive, statewide trails in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties and along the state’s five National Scenic Byways. As the co-chairwoman of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Ms. Whitaker is a strategic part of the planning and overseeing of Tennessee’s 150th Civil War commemoration, including the launch of the Tennessee Civil War Trails Program. Ms. Whitaker launched Tennessee’s Sustainable Tourism initiative with the 2008 Great Smoky Mountain Sustainable Tourism Summit, positioning the state as a national leader in sustainable tourism.

The STDOTY award is given to the professional whose leadership has led to the measurable improvement of his or her state’s travel and tourism profile. Each year, such success is measured in relationship to the budgetary and staff resources that the director has at their disposal.

Candidates are nominated by other state/territory tourism directors and a slate of three finalists is presented for selection by ballot.

Ms. Whitaker is the third Tennessean to win the award since its founding in 1970, following Tom Jackson in 1978 and Sandra Fulton in 1993.


The Road To Atlanta From Parts South And West

Flying in and out of Atlanta can be a pleasure if you plan well and possibly consider a stay at one of the large hotel complexes which ring the airport’s perimeter. Lots of travelers from the Southeast plan their trips around flying in and out of the U.S.’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International. Making your experience match the convenience, timetable ... (click for more)

October Brings Fall Fun Throughout Tennessee

Ongoing Jonesborough –   Tour Tennessee’s Oldest Town , downtown Jonesborough,  11 a.m. every Monday ,  Wednesday ,  Friday  and  Saturday  starting from the International Storytelling Center. Chattanooga –  Mammoths, saber tooth tigers and more prehistoric animals are stars of “ Titans of the Ice Age 3D ” playing now at the ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Area Under Hard Freeze Warning As Winter Comes Early

The Chattanooga area was under a freeze warning as winter rushed in early. The biting weather came as crew members were about to hit the water for the annual Head of the Hooch at Ross's Landing. Here is the warning: ...FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM EST /2 AM CST/ TO 9 AM EST /8 AM CST/ SUNDAY ... THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MORRISTOWN HAS ISSUED ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

Time To Fix The TIFs

What if Chattanooga policy makers and taxpayers used several recent business announcements as a wakeup call to learn more about how our community decides what companies get property tax breaks? If enough people accept this assignment, it just might result in the adoption of some sound policies and procedures to guide us in the future. We read in the newspapers this week that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In November

As the first day of November arrives today, it is cold enough in my garden to officially certify that fall has fell! There are even signs of ice on the ground but there is a bounty crop of acorns so, in keeping with our monthly tradition, some will get shiny acorns and others will get a chunk of cold ice: A SHINY ACORN for Patriots football coach Bill Belichick for scoffing at ... (click for more)