‘Everyone benefits from tourism’
By: on Jul 30, 2015
You could hear it in her voice as Lori Nunnery introduced Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett to a group of tourism and hospitality professionals in Jackson. Nunnery, executive director of the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau, doesn’t need notes as she explains the impact tourism has on the Jackson economy or why Jackson and West Tennessee are emerging as important tourist destinations.
“I love what I do,” Nunnery said. “It’s easy to promote Jackson and our region to visitors. Though we don’t have one major attraction like a Graceland in Memphis or the Smoky Mountains, we offer plenty of activities.”
Nunnery has become the voice of tourism in this community — beating the drum so that smaller destinations get noticed, reaching out to the traveling public and convincing elected officials and community leaders to invest in tourism.
|Lori Nunnery explains that toursim benefits everyone.|
Visitors to Tennessee spent a record $16.7 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Madison County generated $183.5 million in tourism-related expenses, an increase of nearly $10 million over 2012, Nunnery said. “As these dollars turn over in the community, everyone benefits from tourism.”
Jackson and West Tennessee has a mix of reasons to visit, such as sports at the West Tennessee Sportsplex and Jackson Generals baseball, state and national parks like Reelfoot Lake and Natchez Trace, attractions like Casey Jones Village and Discovery Park, Civil War battle sites like Parkers Crossroads and Shiloh National Military Park, historic sites like Davy Crockett’s home, and music destinations like the Carnegie’s new Southern Legends of Music and the Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame.
In fact, Nunnery and other Tennessee tourism officials are making a special effort to promote the region and state’s music heritage. Tennessee, they say, is the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, rock-a-billy, soul and rock ‘n’ roll.
A background in tourism
Nunnery, a graduate of Murray State University, has worked in tourism her entire adult life. Her first jobs were at Cracker Barrel restaurants in Kentucky and Ohio, and then as food and beverage manager at a 630-room Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio. Her family’s desire to move to Tennessee brought her to Jackson; she spent four years with the Jackson Downtown Development Corporation and became director of the Jackson Tourism office in 2009.
Nunnery was appointed to Governor Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Tourism Task Force where she is a member of the marketing subcommittee and facilitates the Rural Tourism Initiative. She is on the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association Board and is a founding member of “Play, Tennessee,” an organization that promotes the state as a sports destination.
She is a graduate of the WestStar Regional Leadership Program and is a Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional, Certified Festival and Events Planner and Tourism Marketing Professional.
She particularly likes the marketing part of tourism. “With social media, it’s a 24/7 kind of job.We monitor what is being said, and we push out good information about the community. We have to be responsive.”
The Convention and Visitors Bureau is partly funded through the hotel/motel tax, the city and the county.
Nunnery is excited about the future — a planned soccer complex, the emerging music products and even the possibility of a convention center hotel.
“It’s rewarding,” she said. The message she has on her website and other marketing pieces sums it up: “Jackson offers not just one attraction — it’s a whole package: Sports, festivals, shopping, entertainment, pageantry and legends. Stop by, we’re right on I-40, on your way to everywhere!”