MEMPHIS — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today expressed his support for the tourism industry in Tennessee in his address to tourism professionals during the 2011 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Memphis.
The event centered on the theme, “Taking Care of Business,” and Haslam praised the industry for its work in making Tennessee one of the leading tourism industries in the country.
“Tourism is Tennessee’s second largest industry and is foundational to our state’s economic health,” said Gov. Haslam. “The industry has my continued support as we continue our work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
State Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker presented her annual state of the industry address before the governor’s speech, announcing the latest tourism statistics as reported by U.S. Travel Association.
According to U.S. Travel’s 2010 Economic Impact Report, Tennessee tourism contributed $14.1 billion to the state’s economy, a 6.3 percent increase over 2009. For the fifth consecutive year, tourism generated more than $1 billion in state and local taxes, and for only the second time in recent memory, all 95 counties in Tennessee saw an increase in tourism economic impact.
International travel to Tennessee saw a 6.8 percent gain, according to the report, and Tennessee is 10th in the U.S. for total overnight leisure stays. During 2010, domestic and international traveler spending in Tennessee supported nearly 175,000 jobs in the state.
Whitaker also helped drive home the department’s goal of “More Visitors, Staying Longer, Spending More.” The powerful statement directed the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s creative and resource allocation decisions during the first year of Haslam’s new administration, Whitaker said.
Whitaker unveiled during her address the department of tourism’s new Tennessee brand-centric logo and creative, “Tennessee, We’re Playing Your Song.” The latest branding initiative is part of collective feedback from industry partners and the expertise of the department’s creative partners from Designsensory, Miles Media, Paramore and White|Thompson, now known as Sullivan Branding. Sullivan Branding designed and executed the new campaign.
“It has been inspiring to sit around the planning table, using the invaluable findings from the industry and engage in a process of strategic and imaginative teamwork,” Whitaker said. “The result is a fresh, relevant campaign that will strengthen our industry’s brand position in the mind of the traveling public, enabling us to accomplish our goals of more visitors, staying longer and spending more.”
The Memphis Governor’s Conference host committee showcased the region with special events at three of the state’s popular tourism attractions, the Memphis Zoo, Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.
“We put our best foot forward in showcasing all Memphis has to offer at this year’s Governor’s Conference for our tourism industry partners,” Tennessee Tourism Roundtable Chairman Calvin Taylor said.
This year’s event brought some of tourism’s most respected professionals to address the tourism industry, including Joe Veneto, principal of Opportunities Unlimited, Michael Gehrisch, president and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International, Diane Shober, tourism director, Wyoming Travel & Tourism and member of the national Council on Tourism Promotion and Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment.
Additional highlights at the conference included educational seminars offering a wide range of relevant topics vital to the tourism industry including social media marketing, adventure tourism and advertising strategies. Each seminar offered expert panelists along with in-depth presentations and discussion. Keynote speakers also addressed industry partners during the event.
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.