NASHVILLE -- Tennessee is working to increase visitor numbers with
new print and TV advertising as well as a revamped Web site.
According to Ellen Thornton, director of marketing for the
Tennessee Department of Tourism here, the state recently unveiled
an advertising campaign that expands on the existing "Tennessee
Sounds Good to Me" theme.
"This year we've added two new ads and we're focusing on TV and
print advertising," she said.
While building equity in the existing slogan, the new campaign
takes a "more emotional" approach, she said, focusing on history,
heritage and culture, a change from previous campaigns which have
focused on the music industry and specific sites.
The campaign "is taking our advertising to the next level,"
Thornton said, adding that the state wants to reach more potential
visitors who are seeking new and different destinations.
Using the "Tennessee Sounds Good to Me" tag line and logo, the
campaign aims to raise awareness of the state's diverse tourism
The campaign focuses primarily on Tennessee's bordering states,
from which the lion's share of visitors arrive.
The state ranks its top drive-market states as follows: Alabama,
Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, Mississippi, Indiana, North
Carolina and Texas.
According to the state's latest marketing plan, fully 85% of the
state's visitors arrive by car.
Tennessee will spend $3.7 million on marketing advertising in
2001, Thornton said, in keeping with its budget for the previous
The department also is banking on marketing through the
Internet, with its revamped Web site at the ready.
The site, at www.tnvacation.com, is promoted in the new advertising
campaign and "is bigger and better," she said, with a new,
The new version of the site, unveiled at a state conference in
September, now includes a trip planner, which she said will
increase ease of access to information that potential travelers
might seek through the site.
Thornton said the site received a total of 4 million hits last
year, and the department expects that number to increase
substantially in the coming year.
"We know that inquiries are up, and we're working to become more
savvy and better marketers on the site," she said.
The department will continue to reach out to travel agents in
the coming year by attending international and regional retailer
conferences, Thornton added.
In addition, the department will maintain communications with
agents by conducting mailings and calling on individual agencies,
Although tourism arrivals have been down slightly in recent
years, more money is being made by tourism-related businesses,
according to Thornton.
"We are having visitors stay longer and they are spending more
money, so the cash registers are ringing," she said.
"The visitation numbers of the last two years have been about
the same," she said, about 39 million visitors.
The latest economic impact figures -- from 1998 -- do show an
increase, and "we expect this trend to continue," she said, because
the department is targeting higher-end visitors.