Original Date: 01/22/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Tourism
Tourism in northeastern Tennessee has become a vibrant industry through the leadership of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association; the dedicated efforts of the Board of Trustees, staff, members, and volunteers; and cooperation from the public and private sectors. These operations have contributed to significant community and economic growth in the region.
In 1977, the Upper East Tennessee-Southwest Virginia Council was chartered by the area Chambers of Commerce, the First Tennessee-Virginia Development District, and the existing tourism industry to promote the region. Operations during the first year were on a volunteer basis. In 1978, the Town of Jonesborough began supplying staff support to the Council (with a full-time director in 1982) and office space in the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center. That same year, the Membership Campaign was initiated. Tourism steadily grew under this structure with an operating budget of $45,000 and a state grant of $15,000.
Continued growth and new opportunities in the region led to the restructuring of the Council in 1992 as well as a new name the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association (NETTA). The following year, the Association moved from the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center into permanent headquarters provided by Jonesborough at a leased cost of $1 per year. Here, the Association began developing long-range strategic plans to promote the region. Partnerships with local, regional, and state agencies resulted in cooperative advertising in national publications. These private and public partnerships soon combined resources to maximize dollars and minimize duplication. Infrastructure enhancements throughout the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia Region also refined the tourism industry with new and improved roads, expansions/upgrades at area attractions, retail development, and construction of hotels, restaurants, and convention civic centers.
Although NETTA provides the leadership, it is the dedicated efforts of the Board of Trustees, staff, members, and volunteers which make the tourism operations in the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia Region a success. Today, the Association has an annual operating budget of $190,000 plus in-kind contribution and a state-matching grant of $35,000. Membership has risen to 200 with involvement in co-op projects totaling $320,000. The tourism operations are now all-encompassing (e.g., marketing, media relations, partnering, legislation) and serve as a catalyst to enhance community and economic development throughout the region. As a result, tourism economic impact figures increased from $247 million to $360 million during the past decade, while state and local taxes grew from $21 million to $32 million. In addition, NETTA launched new publications, expanded its brochure distribution outlets, and created the Pinnacle Awards to salute exemplary tourism performances.
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