Governor Bill Haslam addressed industry professionals Thursday during the 2013 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Franklin. As one of the leading industries in the state, tourism brings an economic impact of more than $16 billion. The 2013 conference featured some of the nation’s top branding and marketing experts Duane Knapp and Kelly McDonald, among others.
“Totaling more than $16 billion in economic impact and employing more than 146,000 Tennesseans are impressive accomplishments for our tourism industry,” Governor Haslam said. “Tennessee’s natural beauty and world-class attractions draw millions to our state, but it is the front-line people in tourism, providing outstanding customer service, who keep them coming back. I commend the whole industry on these great achievements.”
State Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker, who was recently named 2013 national travel director of the year, presented her annual state of the industry address Wednesday, announcing the economic impact numbers of Tennessee as reported by the U.S. Travel Association.
“Tourism expenditures saw a 5.2 percent increase over last year. These are visitors spending money every day with our attractions, hotels, restaurants, shops and more in each of our 95 counties,” said TDTD Commissioner Susan Whitaker. “More importantly, our tourists generated more than $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue for the seventh straight year. For Tennesseans, this means more dollars that can be used for education, public safety and other essential services that can’t pay for themselves.”
“Our growth is coming not only from an increase in domestic travelers but also visitors around the globe, who spent $497 million last year – an increase of 10.4 percent,” said Ms. Whitaker. “These numbers show that we are reaching our goal of more visitors to Tennessee, who are staying longer and spending more.”
Tourism Committee Chair Colin Reed presented the 2013 Strategic Plan, a collaboration between the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Tourism Committee. The mission and vision statements are the bedrock of this important document, designed to help move the needle on Tennessee’s already successful tourism industry.
Conference host, the Williamson County CVB, raised the bar showcasing the many tourism assets in the county. The opening conference day kicked-off with an on-site Super Seminar “From Eye Sore to Attraction” which took attendees to the Factory at Franklin and Franklin Theatre. Attendees closed the opening day with an evening event in Leiper’s Fork.
“We are honored that Williamson County could host the Governor’s Conference on Tourism this year,” said Mark Shore, executive director, Williamson County CVB. “The bar has been raised for future conferences by having some of the nation’s leading experts on tourism as keynote speakers. For the first time the conference hosted two super-marketing seminars. Franklin is nationally recognized for historic site and land preservation with a focus on economic impact through tourism and our community provided best-practice examples for conference attendees to experience first-hand. The powerful news regarding tourism's economic impact was an encouraging finish to the three day conference."
The Governor’s Conference on Tourism informs, updates and inspires tourism partners from across the state through keynote speakers, seminars, networking and the annual state of the industry presentation. The event is a partnership between the Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable.
For more information, contact Cindy Dupree, director of public relations for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, at 615 418-5752 or by email at Cindy.Dupree@tn.gov.