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.


Rock City Donates To Emily's Power For A Cure From Fairytale Nights Proceeds

See Rock City (SRC), Inc. presented Emily’s Power for a Cure (EPFAC) with a $2,000 donation from their Fairytale Nights event, at Tucker’s Trek on Sunday.   "Our community partnerships are an important part of continuing the legacy of generosity that has lived through three generations of Rock City's ownership,” said SRC President Susan Harris. “We are proud to partner ... (click for more)

State Park Restaurants Celebrate Mother’s Day

The Mother’s Day Buffet will be available at these state park restaurants: Cumberland Mountain State Park         (931) 484-7186 David Crockett State Park                     (931) 762-9541 Fall Creek Falls State ... (click for more)

Teen Shot Multiple Times On Wilson Street On Wednesday Night; Injuries "Life-Threatening"

A teenager was shot multiple times on Wilson Street on Wednesday night. The incident was in the 1900 block around 6:30 p.m. The 911 caller said the victim was on her porch. The shooter was said to be in a silver vehicle. Chattanooga Police arrived on the scene, initiated first aid and attempted to locate a crime scene. Hamilton County EMS transported the victim to ... (click for more)

Woman Tells Of Having Shots Fired At Her When She Walked Into Disorder At South Germantown Road Apartment Complex

Officer Joel Gunn of the Chattanooga Police Department and a woman who was fired at after she walked into the scene of a shooting testified in court Wednesday concerning the shooting at the Chateau Royale Apartments on South Germantown Road on April 22. Coy Sims, 48, was arrested by Officer Gunn after police were called by residents of the apartment complex. On the night of the ... (click for more)

Thankful For The Vital Role Teachers Played In My Life

Re: Roy Exum: Teachers Day Tomorrow Roy, I am especially appreciative of your poignant column written in tribute to teachers.  It made me tear up, as I have encountered both as a student and a career educator-- teachers like the second-grade teacher who said, "I wish you were my little girl" and teachers like Mrs. Poindexter.   My teachers have played such a vital ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The DA’s Cold-Case Quest

It is clearly a job nobody can do for over an hour or two, but Neal Pinkston, working in hand with precise professionals from the county’s auditing department, is intent on doing the right thing. As I watched a revolving team of four people at a time open and study envelopes of autopsy photographs on Tuesday, the scene would have made a fascinating television documentary. But ... (click for more)