The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development kicks off its busiest travel season with a new campaign aimed at protecting the health of visitors and residents. The "For the Love of Tennessee, Travel Safe" initiative reminds residents to play-but play it safe-by exploring the state's unmatched scenic beauty, outdoor activities, urban centers and charming small towns while following key safety guidelines like mask-wearing, social distancing and sanitization. The campaign, produced in partnership with advertising agency VMLY&R, launched today and will run through December with TV, print, digital, radio and billboard ads showcasing the many ways residents and visitors can travel safely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the campaign, Tennessee natives and singer-songwriters Drew and Ellie Holcomb hit the road for an epic 1600-mile R.V. trek throughout the state with their children, exploring hidden gems and natural wonders where social distancing is effortless and expected. Drew and Ellie also wrote new music while on the trip, inspired by the state's sights and sounds, which will release as part of the campaign.
The Holcomb family adventures feature safe dining and activities in communities including Chattanooga, Kingsport, Lynchburg, Memphis, Nashville, Paris, the Smokies and more, several Tennessee State Parks and the U.S. National Park's Obed Wild and Scenic River in Wartburg. Their adventures will debut in a 4-part web series starting Wednesday, October 21 via @TNvacation on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. New episodes will debut weekly. Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors' song "Tennessee" serves as the soundtrack to one of a handful of ads scheduled to air this fall.
"We had the time of our life teaming up with Tennessee Tourism for a week-long adventure to highlight the many beautiful destinations to safely explore. Tennessee has always been home to me and now it is to my family, and I am excited for the great memories we will continue to make in this great state," said Drew Holcomb.
Tennessee tourism was on a record track in the first three months of 2020. The pandemic is the single largest crisis to hit the industry and halted a decade of growth for Tennessee. According to U.S. Travel, travel spending in Tennessee declined 87 percent in April and the industry could experience losses between 35-45 percent statewide in 2020. While the state is beginning to see gains as visitors resume travel, the recovery is slower in some parts of the state.
As the state's second largest industry, restoring tourism in a safe manner is critical to restoring the lives and livelihoods of Tennesseans. Revenue generated from tourism in Tennessee generates jobs, economic growth and supports critical services like education and healthcare. In 2019, visitors in Tennessee generated a record-high $23 billion in travel spending and $1.92 billion in state and local tax revenue.
In partnership with Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development developed a relief program to directly support tourism through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. To aid the industry's recovery, Tourist Development received $25 million in CARES Act funding to promote safety and inspire responsible travel. $15 million in grants were designated for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) in all 95 counties. Additional funding will support Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Follow @TNvacation on social and share the journey using #madeinTN and #loveofTN, or visit www.fortheloveofTN.com for more details on how to travel safely in Tennessee.