March 01, 2018
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 100 attendees from across the state for the 2018 event in Nashville this week. 
The Putnam County delegation included Chamber of Commerce President/CEO George Halford and Vice President of Visitor Development Zach Ledbetter.
Tuesday morning kicked off with a "Pancakes & Politics" networking breakfast followed by sessions featuring "Lobbying 101" and updates from TnHTA President/CEO Greg Adkins. Topics in relation to current bills such as Airbnb/VRBO, lodging tax collections, liquor regulations, and funding the state tourism budget were discussed. 
Legislative meetings filled the day's agenda. Meetings for the Putnam County team included State Rep. Cameron Sexton, State Sen. Paul Bailey, and State Rep. & House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams. Information was provided to each legislator regarding current visitor development marketing strategies as well as examples of partnerships with state tourism office. 
"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 Ledbetter. 
Most recent economic impact numbers (2016) for Putnam County show visitation at an all-time high with $123.06 million in direct tourism expenditures. 1,020 jobs were generated with $23.02 million in payroll. Local sales tax revenues totaled $2.56 million. This ranks Putnam County at 17 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," added Ledbetter. "Many of the bills they are introducing and voting on can directly affect our industry and in turn, affect the economy and our residents. There is a value of $342.86 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."
Legislative meetings were followed by an evening reception offering the opportunity for networking with legislators as well as other TnHTA members from all areas of hospitality including hotels, restaurants, attractions, and other visitors' bureaus. 
For more information about Tennessee's Tourism Day on the Hill,
For more information about the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors; Bureau:
For most recent economic impact reports for tourism in Tennessee: