September 27, 2018


KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau team joined hospitality and tourism leaders from across the state for Tennessee’s premier conference of the year for the travel and hospitality industry, the Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism.

Hosted by the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association (TnHTA) in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD), the conference offered two and a half days of networking and seminars with industry partners from across the state.

Specialized sessions and workshops offered best practices in visitor development for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) like the visitors’ bureau, as well as options for the restaurant, hotel, and attraction sectors. Topics included how to participate in Tennessee Songwriters Week, attracting tourists through culinary tourism, new technologies in the hospitality industry and Tennessee’s growing international travel market.

In addition to travel and hospitality-focused education and development, attendees had the opportunity to hear travel insights from keynote speaker journalist and CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg. Other conference highlights included presentations from Tennessee’s gubernatorial candidates. Bill Lee and Karl Dean each offered their stance on the importance of the tourism industry and its role in the economic well-being of the state of Tennessee.

The conference concluded with a state of the industry address from Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett who shared updates on the official launch of Tennessee Music Pathways, a program showcasing Tennessee’s No. 1 export: music.

Locations, festivals and music history are rooted in every county in the state. This new program will share the stories of all seven genres of music (blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, and soul) that originated in Tennessee, making it the global music destination of choice. Physical markers will be placed at select locations, and an online database will house countless music-related travel destinations, events and music history facts.

Triplett also highlighted award winning marketing initiatives such as the Colorblind Viewfinder campaign. With 12 viewfinders placed throughout the state, this offers the opportunity for the more than 13 million people in the U.S. alone to see the beauty of Tennessee’s fall foliage, spring blooms and summer greenery. Three viewfinders are located in the Upper Cumberland, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, Standing Stone State Park, and Fall Creek Falls State Park.

Triplett reiterated the record-breaking numbers announced in August by Gov. Haslam. Those results demonstrate Tennessee not only as a top 10 ranking travel state in the U.S., but the fastest-growing state for international travel.

U.S. International travelers spent more than $930 million in Tennessee last year, an increase of 38.7 percent over five years from 2012 to 2017. That’s the highest percentage increase in international travel of any state in America. Canada is No. 1 in visitation to the Volunteer State, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Mexico and Japan.

For the 12th consecutive year, tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.8 billion. That marks a 7.6 percent increase from 2016, higher than the national growth of travel related state tax revenues of 4.6 percent. Tourism also generated 184,300 jobs for Tennesseans, a 3.1 percent growth year over year.

Tourism is the No. 2 industry in the state behind agriculture. All 95 Tennessee counties had more than $1 million in tourist spending. Twenty counties saw more than $100 million in the economic impact of tourism.

Putnam County’s contribution to that growth resulted in $132.03 million in tourism expenditures, an increase of 7.3 percent, landing a spot among the top ten counties for percentage increase over the previous year.

Putnam County saw an 8.1 percent increase in payroll with $24.89 million generated by tourism-related jobs. A 5.4 percent increase in local tax receipts and a 6.0 percent increase in state tax receipts were also reported, while employment numbers grew to 1,060 hospitality industry jobs.



The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, a program of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the designated destination marketing organization (DMO) for Putnam County and is funded by a portion of the Putnam County lodging tax, a tax paid by visitors’ and collected by local lodging partners such as hotels, bed & breakfasts, etc. Ranking at 17th of Tennessee’s 95 counties, the visitors’ bureau is tasked with inspiring travel and overnight stays in Putnam County. Primary marketing pillars in drive and fly markets include outdoors; fitness/sports; motorcycling; arts/culture; and culinary/crafts. Most recent U.S. Travel Association statistics note visitor spending in Putnam County generated $2.7 million in local tax revenue, providing a tax relief for local residents. To learn more about the work of the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, go to or request additional information at


IMAGE: From left is: Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau; Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development; and Molly Brown, director of public relations & marketing, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau.