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In recognition of tourism's tremendous economic, social and cultural impact throughout the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will participate with the U.S. Travel Association in the 2015 National Travel and Tourism Week May 2-10.

This year's theme "Travel is __________," is meant to encourage the travel community to be creative and have fun in an effort to reflect the unique value and impact of the industry. For example, Travel is adventure; Travel is family bonding; Travel is serious business; Travel is more than just fun; Travel is creating American jobs. This nationwide week of events serves to champion the power of the industry. A wide cross section of travel and tourism professionals work throughout the week to promote the impactful contributions their travel markets and organizations make to the U.S. economy.

"National Travel and Tourism Week is a perfect time to raise awareness about the significant economic development role our industry plays on a national, state and local level," said Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. "Last year, The U.S. Trave

l Association reported that tourism had a $16.7 billion direct economic impact in Tennessee generating more than $1 billion in state and local sales taxes for the eighth consecutive year. Our goal is to continue that growth."

The state department, its welcome centers and tourism partners across the state will join cities and travel businesses nationwide in support of the industry's impact on local communities and states. The travel community typically marks the event in a number of creative ways, from staging local rallies and conducting media outreach to securing proclamations and resolutions from local governments.

Each year Tennessee welcome centers play an integral role in National Tourism Week. Throughout the week, welcome centers host a variety of travel and tourism partners, such as local Chambers of Commerce, attractions, destinations, restaurants, Tennessee musical performances, accommodations and Tennessee State Parks. Many set up tables and greet visitors with their hospitality, culture, culinary specialties, wildlife, discounts and helpful information.

Examples of some featured events and attractions partnering with welcome centers across the state include Pickwick Landing State Park, the National Banana Pudding Festival, and Tenn South Distillery showcased at the I-65 Giles County (Ardmore) Welcome Center. Hamilton County's welcome centers will highlight attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, Chattanooga Ghost Tours, Lumberjack Feud, and the Medal of Honor Museum. The I-81 Sullivan County (Bristol) Welcome Center will feature various attractions including the Dixie Stampede and Ripley's Aquarium. The I-40 Cocke County (Hartford) Welcome Center will offer a meet and greet with Ewok from the show Appalachian Outlaws who will be here signing copies of the Newport Plain Talk's Visiting the Smokies Guide. And tying in with Tennessee's new branding campaign The Soundtrack of America, Made In Tennessee, many welcome centers will offer live music, such as the Museum of Appalachia Band at the I-75 South Campbell County Welcome Center and the Flat Broke Band at the I-65 Robertson County (Mitchellville) Welcome Center.

Travel and tourism generated $2.1 trillion in economic output and $927.9 billion in direct travel-related spending in the U.S. by domestic and international travelers in 2014. The industry also represents one of America's largest employers, supporting 15 million American jobs supported-8 million direct tourism jobs and 7 million indirect and induced jobs-good jobs with good pay that cannot be outsourced.

National Tourism Week was established in 1983 when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution designating the week to be celebrated in May 1984. In a White House ceremony, President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to observe the week with "the appropriate ceremonies and activities."

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