The Tennessee Tourism Committee was initiated by Governor Haslam to develop sound ways that the state can substantially improve and increase its visitor base from current levels. Governor Haslam intended to include both the private (i.e. Dollywood, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., formerly known as Gaylord Entertainment Company) and public (i.e. CVBs, tourism associations) organizations. In doing so, the tourism industry is well represented on the committee across every region of the state. Currently, the committee views our state’s industry as relatively fragmented.
The state’s industry is primarily made up of four large buckets. There are private corporations that spend tens of millions of dollars every year marketing their businesses. Their focus is centered on their businesses with their own marketing plans and have very little interaction with the state and some interaction with CVBs. Then there are the smaller businesses with even smaller marketing budgets and they tend to rely heavily on the state and their local convention and visitor’s bureaus. Often, they are left to fend for themselves. The CVBs generally take a city-by-city approach with little coordination and have some coordination with the state via co-op programs. Lastly, there are large industry associations with many different and overlapping focuses. Primarily, these are lobbying groups that have some coordination with the state and CVBs. In short, there’s a lot of interested parties, but not a lot of collaboration.
The Tennessee Tourism Committee is committed to aligning the industry, and with the creation of Governor’s Haslam’s “tourism taskforce,” these entities are all represented on the committee. A list and bios of each committee members are available here. To further align the industry and ensure that all voices are heard, the committee hosts Open Forums at each of its meetings, where regional and local tourism leaders meet to ask questions to committee members, provide feedback on its progress, and most importantly, submit their input on what the state needs to focus on to enhance and improve tourism statewide.
Primary Objective – Increased Marketing of the State
Statewide, it is well understood that tourism is a serious economic driver for the state, and increased marketing funds to the promote the state would bring additional jobs, tax revenues, and visitation to Tennessee. In essence, this is the committee’s strategy – creating a secure and dedicated marketing fund for the state to promote its iconic personalities and scenic beauty outside of its current target markets. Did you know that nearly 65% of the state’s visitors are from either Tennessee or its bordering states? At its current funding levels, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is unable to comprehensively promote the state to markets such as the Northeast, West or even Texas. Nonetheless, tourism is a BIG industry, and considering all of the great assets our state has to offer, well, we might be leaving money on the table.
Before we can make any recommendations to the Governor, we first must need to understand a few things. Please click on the links below to better understand how the committee is answering these questions.