Visit Knoxville Celebrates 10 Years | Sports Destination Management

Visit Knoxville Celebrates 10 Years

Jan 23, 2023

Visit Knoxville is pleased to celebrate its 10th anniversary as the official convention and visitors bureau for the City of Knoxville and Knox County.

The organization has really evolved over the last 10 years, including the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission, the Visit Knoxville Film Office, and the Visit Knoxville Visitors Center at 301 S. Gay Street.  Visit Knoxville also staffs and operates the Observation Deck of the Sunsphere at World’s Fair Park.

Overall responsibilities include:

  • Developing and placing regional, national and international advertising promoting Knoxville
  • Recruiting and booking conferences and sporting events as well as film and television production to Knoxville
  • Supporting community initiatives encompassing art and culture, history, entertainment and outdoor adventure – many of which benefit the local community at large

“Marking a decade as Visit Knoxville is an incredible personal and professional honor,” said Kim Bumpas, President of Visit Knoxville. “Our organization has been consistently committed to our tourism partners, our stakeholders, our community, our City and our County.  Our passion is evidenced by our name: we are dedicated to encouraging everyone to VISIT KNOXVILLE.” 

A look by the years:

2012 – Establishment of Visit Knoxville; hosted National Horseshoe Pitchers Association World Tournament, the Entomological Society of America’s Annual Meeting, and the Ozone Invitational; brought on an agency partner for marketing, re-created the website, branding and much more

2013 – Hosted the Southern Food Writers Conference as part of the International Biscuit Festival; partnered with the Public Arts Committee, the Arts & Culture Alliance, the East Tennessee Design Center and CBID to spearhead the Knoxville Mural Project with the initial mural painted at the Visit Knoxville Visitor Center on Gay Street; renovated the Sunsphere’s Observation Deck for the first time in 31 years

2014 – Established the Visit Knoxville Film Office; hosted the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the Professional Outdoor Media Association’s Annual Conference, and the Academic Games Leagues of America’s National Tournament; launched “The Memories Stay with You” marketing campaign

2015 – Hosted the Medal of Honor Convention at the Knoxville Convention Center; partnered with the Knoxville Chamber and the University of Tennessee Offices of Admissions to produce a new Visitors & Relocation Guide and a new UT Visitor Guide; began installation of VK Network to showcase the experience of Knoxville via a video loop in key venues, attractions and hotels

2016 – Established the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission; claimed Blue Ridge Outdoors “Best City” award; launched “Beats and Eats” branding; launched VK Concierge Program (quarterly staff visits to hotel partners); created and hosted the first Bike Boat Brew & Bark; partnered with the Knoxville Area Brewers Association to create and distribute the Knoxville Ale Trail Map; served as host location for one of Burt Reynold’s final projects of his career The Last Movie Star

2017 – Launched “Knoxville Will Surprise You” branding; renovated the Visit Knoxville Visitors Center; produced new Meeting Planner Guide; invested in 50k sq. ft. of Sport Court flooring to create 10 basketball/14 volleyball courts; launched the Visit Knoxville Housing System; partnered with Greetings Tour for the mural on Broadway; launched VK Partner Extranet; hosted the first USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships

2018 – Designed and coordinated graphic installation at the World’s Fair Exhibition Hall; launched digital Visit Knoxville Gift Shop; partnered with the City of Knoxville to launch a Bike Share Program; partnered with Knoxville History Project, the Knoxville Museum of Art, and the City of Knoxville on the Downtown Art Wraps

2019 – Hosted National Association of Sports Commissions Annual Symposium, the TYR Pro Swim Series, and the largest Bassmaster Classic in B.A.S.S. history to-date; hosted the Southeastern Theatre Conference and the GWRAA 40th Annual Wing Ding; partnered with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to host the first Tennessee Songwriters Week Showcase; partnered with WDVX and East Tennessee PBS on Ken Burns’ “Country Music” documentary; made MovieMaker Magazine’s “Best Places to Live and Work as a MovieMaker”; hosted Garth Brooks at Neyland Stadium (resulting in Knoxville being named as Vivid Seats’ 2020 Concert City of the Year); launched new and current branding via the “a-nature-loving-adventure-seeking-artsy-kinda-town” campaign

2020 – Hosted Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Southeastern Regional Conference and the NAIA Swimming & Diving National Championships just prior to the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic; partnered on the KNOXTOGETHER community initiative in response to COVID-19; launched “For the Love of Knoxville” CARES Act campaign

2021 – Celebrated 225 years of Tennessee Statehood; hosted the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit® Challenge and the first Visit Knoxville Open; redesigned the Visit Knoxville Gift Shop to highlight local Makers; partnered with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to host a series of Sunsphere Sundays concerts in World’s Fair Park

2022 – Reopened the 4th Floor Observation Deck of the Sunsphere (welcoming over 42,000 visitors from 34 countries and all 50 states to-date); hosted and assisted with a record number of journalists; launched a new website; partnered with Live Nation on Paul McCartney’s Get Back Tour; partnered with the City of Knoxville, Knox County, the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, and Block by Block to launch K-Town Connect; hosted the 40th Anniversary of the 1982 World’s Fair Celebration.

Over the past decade, Visit Knoxville has additionally achieved the following:

  • Downtown Average Daily Hotel Rate (ADR) – downtown rates have increased over 43% in the last 8 years to over $161.
  • Local Tax Collection – has grown by over 107%
  • Visitor Expenditures were over $1.65 billion in 2021, continuing to rank Knox County 4th in the state. 
  • Website pageviews – in 2014, visitors viewed 1.1 million pages, this has grown to 3.2 million in 2022, a growth of 180%.
  • Website users – our website had 312,000 users in 2014, which has grown to 1.3 million in 2022, an increase of 301%.

“I had the pleasure of working with Visit Knoxville in the early years,” said former City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “I have been consistently impressed with the hard work this organization has done to promote Knoxville and continue to be proud of all that Kim and her team have achieved in recent years.”

“As Knox County Mayor in 2012, I was in involved in the scrutiny of the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation and the formation of Visit Knoxville,” said Congressman Tim Burchett. “It was a challenging beginning, but I am beyond pleased with how Visit Knoxville has come out on top and continues to build with a strong vision of advancing tourism.”

“There has never been a better time to visit our city, and that’s thanks to the hard work of our partners at Visit Knoxville,” said City of Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon. “They do a tremendous job showcasing all we have to offer, putting Knoxville on the map as a destination for business travelers, conferences, and tourists. Their work also helps attract world class events to our region, in turn helping our local economy. Thank you and congratulations on 10 years as Visit Knoxville!”

“I am thrilled to work with Visit Knoxville and am continually impressed with what they do,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.  “Over the past several years, we have hosted world-class sporting events such as a record breaking Bassmaster Classic, the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge, and USA Cycling. We have been treated to top-notch concerts including Garth Brooks' historic event at Neyland Stadium, and Sir Paul McCartney at Thompson-Boling Arena. Thanks to VK, the World's Fair 40th Anniversary brought to town over 40,000 visitors from all 50 states and 33 countries. All of that is in addition to the conferences, conventions, and amateur sporting events that we host nearly every week. VK is an outstanding asset to Knox County, and I am truly thankful for their efforts in making Knox County a big-time tourist and event destination.”

The Importance of Tourism in Tennessee
Tourism is the state’s second highest revenue producing industry. In 2021, the state produced a domestic record-high $24.2 billion in direct visitor spending.

Knoxville’s Numbers are Impressive
In 2021, Knox County welcomed a total of 6.8 million overnight visitors.

For the seventh consecutive year, Knoxville produced over $1 billion in direct visitor spending – a total of $1.65 billion (outperformed national average of 35.7%), ranking fourth among Tennessee’s 95 counties behind Davidson, Shelby, and Sevier respectively.

These dollars yield more than $131.4 million in tax revenue (state and local).

Tourism accounts for more than 12,630 jobs throughout Knox County.

Other highlights of the past 10 years here.

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