Travel Rebound And The Emotional Value Of Tourism Tops 2022 Chattanooga Tourism Summit

  • Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Chattanooga Tourism Co. hosted around 500 industry partners at the 2022 Chattanooga Tourism Summit Tuesday to celebrate the resilience of the travel industry in Hamilton County. The summit included and industry address by Barry White, president and CEO of Chattanooga Tourism Co., and remarks from Hugh Morrow, Chattanooga Tourism Co. Board chair and president and CEO of the Ruby Falls.  Keynote speaker Samantha Brown, award-winning television show host and executive producer of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love on PBS and former host of several Travel Channel shows, shared her insights on the emotional value of tourism.  

“Chattanooga’s tourism economy is healthy," said Mr. White. "We are fortunate for many successes, and we will celebrate more as they occur. But we still have challenges and opportunities ahead, and we’re up for it.”

“Our vision is to become the most competitive and innovative destination organization in the country, and we are well on our way,” said Mr. Morrow.

More than 15 million people visit Hamilton County annually and spend $1.5 billion. On an average day, that’s roughly 40,000 visitors in town, with 15,000 of them spending the night in our hotels and spending $4.1 million per day on entertainment, shopping, dining and more. In addition to directly supporting our local businesses, they are essentially temporary taxpayers who save every Hamilton County household $828 per year in taxes.  

Looking ahead to the future, Mr. White shared Longwoods International data that indicates Hamilton County’s travel rebound was led by leisure travel and group sports, with business and group travel still underperforming. The Chattanooga Tourism Co. is investing more time and resources than ever to ensure Chattanooga is top of mind as meeting planners regain confidence in committing to future events, said officials. 

Ms. Brown shared her unique approach to travel and how her focus on connection and community guides people to have a more powerful travel experience. “Love is the perfect way to describe how people feel about Chattanooga. It has an enviable connection to nature, being outdoors, and adventure."

Ms. Brown announced that Chattanooga will be featured in her upcoming season of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love on PBS and shared a clip from the episode, slated to air in early 2023. Places to Love is all about seeking the little-known spots and haunts where innovators and disruptors are creating a brand new travel experience. The upcoming episode will explore Chattanooga staples, including the Walnut Street Bridge, Tennessee Aquarium, Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, and Uncle Larry’s Restaurant and connect viewers to local Chattanooga residents and their passion for the city.

Summit attendees were welcomed by local buskers performing live music throughout the Convention Center atrium and local disc jockey, The Million Dolla Man kicked off the program with his musical stylings.

Concurrent breakout sessions included research and information from Jordan Kuglitsch with Miles Partnership and Allison Wolfe with Chattanooga Tourism Co. on managing online reputation and an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Tourism Panel Discussion moderated by Donna Elle Harrison, Chattanooga Tourism Co. with industry leaders, including James McKissic with ArtsBuild, Mara-Lynne Payne with the Tennessee Aquarium, Melissa Cherry with Miles Partnership, Miles Huff with Cempa Community Care, and Carlin McRae with Ruby Falls.

For more information about the 2022 Chattanooga Tourism Summit, go to VisitChattanooga.com/Summit.

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