Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit Draws Participation from National Leaders

Friday, August 29, 2008 | 10:53am

NASHVILLE – The inaugural Great Smoky Mountains Sustainable Tourism Summit will be held April 28 – 29, 2008 at the Knoxville Convention Center in Knoxville, Tenn. The Summit, designed to kick-off and honor the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a partnership effort of the states of Tennessee and North Carolina and the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, The University of Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Sustainable tourism is defined as sustaining the environment and historical and cultural heritage of a region, while simultaneously sustaining the economic growth of that region. Although the Summit has been primarily designed for the Great Smoky Mountains gateway communities, the principles and best practices discussed will benefit any community wishing to incorporate sustainability in its tourism industry.  
Some of the highly recognized, confirmed speakers at the two-day Summit are Gov. Phil Bredesen and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the Travel Industry Association of America and Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler. Experts participating in the Summit will show community leaders how maintaining a community’s historical, cultural and environmental authenticity will stimulate and support their region’s economic growth in tourism.
Featured plenary sessions and tracks include, “Why Sustainable Tourism Makes Both Dollars & Sense,” “Life on the Farm: The Agricultural Aspect of Sustainable Tourism,” and “People and Places: The Essence of Sustainable Tourism.” In addition, gateway communities will be encouraged to identify specific “sustainable projects” and implement a plan for community action. The far-reaching appeal of this Summit has attracted registrants from Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
All community leaders are encouraged to attend the Summit, including state and local elected officials, tourism business owners and managers, Chambers and Convention & Visitors Bureaus, hoteliers, restaurant owners, tourism attractions, developers, and any tourism partner or individual interested in green and sustainable tourism practices.
For registration information and a complete schedule, including a list of all speakers and accompanying bios, please visit For additional registration information, contact the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s Lee Curtis, director of program development, at (615) 741-9045 or, or contact Patricia Gray, research development coordinator, at (615) 741-9004 or The registration deadline is April 14, and attendance is limited.

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