Travel rebound and emotional value of tourism lead Chattanooga tourism summit

The Chattanooga Tourism Co. hosted approximately 500 industry partners at the 2022 Chattanooga Tourism Summit yesterday to celebrate the resilience of the travel industry in Hamilton County.

The summit included an address from Barry White, President and CEO of Chattanooga Tourism Co., and remarks from Hugh Morrow, Chairman of the Board of Chattanooga Tourism Co. and President and CEO of Ruby Falls.

Keynote Speaker Samantha Brown, Award-Winning TV Host and Executive Producer places of love by samantha brown on PBS and former host of several Travel Channel shows, shared her thoughts on the emotional value of tourism.

“Chatanooga’s tourism economy is healthy. We are fortunate for many successes, and we will celebrate more as they happen,” says Barry White, President and CEO of Chattanooga Tourism Co. “But we still have challenges and opportunities to be met, and we are ready to meet them.

“Our vision is to be the most competitive and innovative destination organization in the country, and we’re well on our way,” said Hugh Morrow, Chattanooga Tourism Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. General of Ruby Falls.

More than 15 million people visit Hamilton County each year and spend $1.5 billion. On average, that’s about 40,000 visitors to the city, 15,000 of whom stay overnight at our hotels and spend $4.1 million a day on entertainment, shopping, dining and more.

In addition to directly supporting our local businesses, they are essentially temporary taxpayers who save every household in Hamilton County $828 a year in taxes.

Looking to the future, White shared data from Longwoods International which indicates that the rebound in travel in Hamilton County has been led by leisure travel and group sports, business travel and group still being underperforming. The Chattanooga Tourism Co. is investing more time and resources than ever before to ensure Chattanooga is a priority as meeting planners regain confidence to engage in future events.

Keynote speaker Samantha Brown shared her unique approach to travel and how her focus on connection and community guides people to a more powerful travel experience. “Love is the perfect way to describe what people think of Chattanooga. It has an enviable connection to nature, the outdoors and adventure,” said Samantha Brown, TV show host and producer executive.

Brown has announced that Chattanooga, Tennessee will be featured in its next season of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love on PBS and shared a clip of the episode, which is scheduled to air in early 2023. places to love is to seek out the little-known places and places where innovators and disruptors are creating a whole new travel experience.

The next episode will explore Chattanooga must-sees including the Walnut Street Bridge, Tennessee Aquarium, Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, and Uncle Larry’s Restaurant, and connect viewers with local Chattanooga residents and their passion for the city.

Summit attendees were greeted by local buskers playing live music in the convention center atrium and local disc jockey, The Million Dolla Man kicked off the program with his musical styles.

Concurrent breakout sessions included research and insights from Jordan Kuglitsch with Miles Partnership and Allison Wolfe with Chattanooga Tourism Co. on managing your online reputation and a panel discussion on equity, diversity and inclusion on tourism hosted by Donna Elle Harrison, Chattanooga Tourism Co. with industry leaders including James McKissic with ArtsBuild, Mara-Lynne Payne with the Tennessee Aquarium, Melissa Cherry with Miles Partnership, Miles Huff with Cempa Community Care and Pug McRae with Ruby Falls.

For more information on the 2022 Chattanooga Tourism Summit, visit Visit

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