March 09, 2017
Visitor Development Officials Meet with Legislators and Tourism Leaders at State Capitol
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Each year the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association hosts “Tourism Day on the Hill,” offering members the opportunity to network, learn about legislative processes, and meet face-to-face with state legislators regarding important issues affecting the tourism industry. Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau representatives joined more than 150 attendees from across the state for the 2017 event in Nashville this week.
The Putnam County delegation included Visitors’ Bureau Chairman Ben Prine, Chamber of Commerce President/CEO George Halford, Vice President of Visitor Development Zach Ledbetter, and Director of Public Relations & Marketing Molly Brown.
A reception on Tuesday evening offered an opportunity for networking with legislators as well as other TnHTA members from all areas of hospitality including hotels, restaurants, attractions, and other visitors’ bureaus.
Wednesday morning kicked off with a “Pancakes & Politics” networking breakfast followed by sessions featuring “Lobbying 101” and updates from TnHTA President/CEO Greg Adkins. Guest speakers included Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett and Governor Bill Haslam.
Topics in relation to current bills such as transportation/fuel taxes, Airbnb/VRBO zoning, lodging tax collections, liquor regulations, and funding the state tourism budget were discussed.
Legislative meetings filled the remainder of the agenda. Meetings for the Putnam County team included State Rep. Cameron Sexton, State Sen. Paul Bailey, and State Rep. Ryan Williams. Information was provided to each legislator regarding current visitor development marketing strategies as well as examples of partnerships with state tourism office. Legislators were offered appreciation and asked for feedback on current visitor development initiatives.
“We really wanted to take this time to thank each of our legislators for supporting the tourism industry and for understanding what an impact visitation has on the economic well-being of our community,” said Prine. “We also used this time to hear from them on areas of improvement and on what the perception of our area is from the legislative level.”
Most recent economic impact numbers (2015) for Putnam County show visitation at an all-time high with $122.15 million in direct tourism expenditures. 910 jobs were generated with $18.68 million in payroll. State and local sales tax revenues totaled $9.96 million. This ranks Putnam County at 16 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.
“As the destination marketing organization for Putnam County, we feel it incredibly important to have a strong relationship with our local and statewide legislators,” said Ledbetter. “Many of the bills they are introducing and voting on directly affect our industry and in turn, affect the economy and our residents. There is a value of $338.51 in tax savings per household in our county due to dollars spent by visitors.”
“With a strong support for the tourism department on the state level, we are able to participate in more marketing co-op partnerships and grant opportunities with the department. This offers a reach to potential guests that a community of our size would not be able to carry out without the support of state level tourism funding,” added Ledbetter.
For more information about Tennessee’s Tourism Day on the Hill, www.tnhta.net
For more information about the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau: www.visitcookevilletn.com
For most recent economic impact reports for tourism in Tennessee: http://bit.ly/2015-TN-Econ-Impact