Communication and collaboration were the running themes at the inaugural meeting of the Tullahoma Tourism Council on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at city hall.
The council is chaired by Steve May, director of marketing operations at Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg. He has been tasked with generating more tourism in the city of Tullahoma and the surrounding area in the hopes of driving the area’s economy.
Tullahoma Mayor Lane Curlee said he hopes this joint task force of sorts will be able to make Tullahoma a more attractive place to stop and visit.
“Tourism is the second largest industry in Tennessee,” Curlee said, “and the state recently cracked the top 10 states in tourism spending.”
“In Tullahoma, without even trying, we do a pretty good job attracting tourists, but I know we can do better with a strategic, focused effort,” he said.
“We need to create a Tullahoma Tourism council and participate in more regional tourism efforts, as well.”
The meeting saw dozens of interested Tullahoma-area business owners and representatives from various tourism organizations, such as the Tennessee Backroads Heritage, who came together to take stock of where Tullahoma currently sits in its tourism efforts.
“There’s lots of work to do in this area, but we are starting from a good place,” May said, “and the people of Tullahoma have lots of enthusiasm to help us achieve the goals we hope to set.”
During the discussion, many business owners seemed keen on the idea of working toward a more collaborative process in cross-promoting each other’s businesses, which May was encouraged by.
“This should be a part of the solution to building a healthy tourism industry in Tullahoma,” he said.
However, he said, there is still much more each business owners could do to help boost the tourism impact in the area.
“We are hoping to work toward leveraging current tourist attractions and efforts to enhance tourism,” May said.
May said the wealth of institutional and historical knowledge about the town’s history will help the council work on a short- and long-term plan to help make Tullahoma destination rather than a stopover.
“By putting together a one- to five-year plan,” he said, “we can prioritize our projects based on input from the community, available budget and many other factors.”
May was encouraged by all the information and ideas put forth by the business owners in Tullahoma, he said, and was proud to be part of a community that cares so much about each other.
“The people in attendance are passionate about being involved in this initiative because they care so deeply about Tullahoma,” he said. “The turnout was more than I expected and the conversation was healthy and encouraging.”
May said that his next steps were to brief the mayor on everything discussed and get his input on where the council might go moving forward.
“We are just now getting started, but the future for enhancing and leveraging tourism efforts in Tullahoma looks very bright.”
Erin McCullough may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.