Design Sensory to present tourism action plan to County Commission

Published 6:13 pm Friday, October 13, 2017

Earlier this year, Carter County was awarded a grant to help improve tourism promotion, and on Monday night, members of the Carter County Commission will hear the results of the asset inventory and formation of the tourism action plan.

The grant funded a project to have an asset inventory conducted and an action plan developed. Design Sensory, a Knoxville-based marketing and branding firm, provided the winning bid for the project.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In July, Design Sensory launched a tourism survey and conducted a town hall meeting with local residents. Members of the Design Sensory team also visited local sites to see for themselves what Carter County has to offer.

“They actually came here and were tourists,” said Kayla Carter, Tourism Coordinator for Carter County.

After compiling all the data they collected from their own adventures and feedback from residents, Design Sensory has developed a plan to help Carter County better promote itself and to attract more tourists to the area.

“It’s really a framework to help us all get on the same page with tourism as economic development,” Carter said.

Carter has seen a preview of the action plan and during Monday’s meeting of the Commission, Mary Blair of Design Sensory, who served as the project manager, will be presenting that plan to the commissioners.

During the meeting, Carter will also be giving a presentation to the Commission regarding the budget plan for tourism promotion and how they hope to incorporate the recommendations from the Design Sensory research.

Carter said state officials recently released data regarding tourism numbers across the state and Carter County experienced growth during the past year.

According to state figures, in 2016 tourism generated $37.14 Million in direct tourism expenditures which created $5.85 Million in payroll, $2.38 Million in local tax revenue and $2.32 Million in state tax revenue. Carter County ranked 40th out of 95 counties in Tennessee for the economic impact created by tourism.

Carter said she felt the most telling figure released by the state relates to how it affects the taxpayers directly. According to the state data, she said each Carter County household would pay an additional $196.71 each year in state and local taxes if it were not for the revenue generated by tourism.

“The money we are sending out to bring people into this county is coming back to the community,” Carter said. “Tourism saves local taxpayers money in the long run.”