Shortly after Governor Haslam’s inauguration on January 15th 2011, Susan Whitaker was retained as the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Governor Haslam also announced the formation and leadership of a statewide Tourism Committee chaired by Colin Reed, Chairman, President and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. (formerly Gaylord Entertainment), and co-chaired by Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. and Ted Miller, President of Dolly Parton Productions. “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,” Governor Haslam said. “I’m also gratified that Colin Reed, Jack Soden and Ted Miller – three giants of the nationwide tourism industry – have agreed to lend their expertise to taking Tennessee tourism to a new level.”
Since Governor Haslam appointed the committee and its Chair and Co-Chairs, the Tennessee Tourism Committee held its first meeting at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center on September 30, 2011. The committee meets every two to three months throughout the state, and it is the committee’s goal to meet in each region of the state prior to delivering any recommendations to Governor Haslam. At each meeting, the committee holds on Open Forum for the public to weigh-in on Tennessee tourism and its direction.
At the 2012 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism in September, the committee updated the industry on its findings and initial framework of recommendations to the governor. For a copy of the presentation and its initial findings and framework, please contact the committee here.