Press Releases

Haslam Forms Statewide Tourism Committee

Press Release from Governor-elect Bill Haslam; Jan. 6, 2011:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam today announced Susan Whitaker will continue as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

Haslam also announced the formation of a statewide Tourism Committee. The committee will report back to him by Sept. 1 on how to maximize Tennessee’s potential in tourism by attracting more visitors, creating more effective marketing, coordinating public-private partnerships, handing off customers from attraction to attraction more efficiently and specifically focusing on tourism opportunities in smaller, economically depressed counties.

Tourism in Tennessee generates $13.3 billion in economic impact and employs more than 170,000 Tennesseans. Whitaker was first appointed commissioner in January 2003 and has served in that capacity for the past eight years, overseeing the creation and implementation of state tourism’s many campaigns.

“Tennessee tourism has taken many positive strides during Susan’s tenure as commissioner, and I am delighted to have her stay on as head of the department,” Haslam said.

Whitaker is a Chicago native and a direct descendant of Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Northwestern University, and before serving as commissioner, she was Vice President of Marketing for Dollywood.

“I’ve been excited to hear Gov.-elect Haslam’s ideas on regional economic development and tourism, and I’m thrilled to be a part of his team,” Whitaker said. “I’m especially proud to be representing Tennessee in tourism, and I’m excited about the future of the industry in our state.”

Whitaker is married to Ken Whitaker, and they attend Christ Community Church in Franklin. She has two sons, Josh and Jeff, and four grandchildren.

Colin Reed, CEO of Gaylord Entertainment, will chair the statewide committee. Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. CEO Jack Soden and Dolly Parton Productions President Ted Miller will be vice chairs of the committee.

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