NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett today announced important improvements to Tennessee’s 14 Welcome Centers, including a new music feature highlighting a more than 140 song playlist of Tennessee music. The state’s welcome centers attract more than 13 million visitors annually, who will now be greeted with “The Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee.” The announcement was made at the I-40 Shelby County center in Memphis.
“Our welcome centers offer an outstanding opportunity to make an authentic first impression to the millions of people from around the world who choose Tennessee as their travel destination,” said Commissioner Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “As we continue to grow as the global music destination with unparalleled scenic beauty, amazing attractions, and important history, we felt it was time to turn up the volume on the welcome center experience.”
Several new improvements have been incorporated with the most noteworthy being the implementation of the actual “Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee.” With a ceremonial 5-foot by 3-foot giant radio, Commissioner Triplett turned up the volume to broadcast music at all 14 welcome centers simultaneously.
The playlist features songs by Tennessee artists, songs recorded in Tennessee, and songs about Tennessee, representing each of the genres of music born here: blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul. Guests will hear the ‘Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee’ from the moment they arrive to the parking area until the moment they depart.
“Greeting the more than 13 million welcome center visitors with a Tennessee song is the perfect way to say ‘welcome,’” said Commissioner Triplett. “Every minute of every day, our guests will be inspired by the music and reminded that the soundtrack of America is definitely Made in Tennessee. They can hear it for themselves.”
Additional steps to take the welcome center experience to a new level include implementing several technology updates like free Wi-Fi and providing iPads to the welcome center staff. Sustainability is always an area of continued improvement as well, as all 14 centers maintain green certifications with energy efficient lighting, insulation and weather stripping, rain barrels for landscaping use, recycling areas, and continued education for welcome center staff.
New signage is also a significant addition reflecting Tennessee’s new marketing campaign, “The Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee.” The signage offers a perfect photo-op for guests and includes the state’s social media handle @tnvacation and hashtag (#madeintn), encouraging travelers to share their Made in Tennessee experience throughout their visit.
Accompanying the recent launch of the 2016 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide, each center also has a life-size replica of Tennessee native and international entertainment icon Dolly Parton, creating an additional photo opportunity. Parton graced the cover resulting in record-breaking numbers year-over-year for guide requests online and in print.
Tennessee Welcome Centers host more than 13 million visitors annually and are located primarily along the interstate highway system. The centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Tourism is currently the second largest of Tennessee’s industries, with an economic impact of $17.7 billion, a 6.3 percent increase over the previous year and an all-time high for the state. Tourism generates 152,900 jobs for Tennesseans and produces $1.5 billion in state and local sales tax revenue. Travel to Tennessee recently topped 100 million, achieving 101.3 million person stays, a first in Tennessee history.
For more information, contact Molly Brown, public relations media manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, at 615-532-0484 o., 615-289-7495 c., or by email at Molly.Brown@tn.gov.
For more information about Tennessee Welcome Centers, call 615-741-2159 or e-mail Welcome.Centers@tn.gov.