The city’s future is green, Chattanooga-area tourism officials said Wednesday.
Bob Doak, president and chief executive of the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said his organization will continue to push Chattanooga’s green initiative and maintain its eco-friendly reputation.
“We were green before it was truly cool to be green,” Mr. Doak said at the CVB’s 67th annual meeting.
Staff Photo by John Rawlston Visitors walk in the Ross's Landing Plaza at the Tennessee Aquarium on Wednesday afternoon.
The city’s commitment to the ecology helped it capture Volkswagen, he said, calling it a company dedicated to sustainable manufacturing and the design and assembly of automobiles that will have a reduced effect on the environment.
“Does anyone still wonder if going green matters?” he asked.
In the coming year, Mr. Doak said the Convention and Visitors Bureau will set timetables to implement new environmental practices, work closely with environmental groups such as GreenSpaces, Mayor Ron Littlefield’s Green Committee as well as Outdoor Chattanooga.
Also, it will recognize individual and corporate achievement with regard to green living.
“Lastly, through our marketing and advertising activities, we will use our collective accomplishments to enhance Chattanooga’s image as a city committed to a sustainable future,” Mr. Doak said.
By the numbers
* 7,540: Number of people employed in the local tourism industry.
$688 million: Estimated amount spent locally by tourists last year.
$15 million: Local sales tax collections last year.
$4.5 million: Hamilton County lodging tax collections.
Source: Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey said the area’s green initiative is an important part of attracting visitors.
“I think the entire country is thinking green,” he said. “And tourism is such a vital part of this community.”
Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker praised the efforts of the CVB and area officials for the job they are doing promoting Chattanooga’s environmental efforts.
“I think they are doing a wonderful job of getting their message out,” she said.
Chattanooga appeared in a case study at a recent conference Ms. Whitaker attended. The city was praised for turning around what CBS newscaster Walter Cronkite in 1969 called “America’s dirtiest city.”
Recently, Chattanooga was named one of the best cities to live, work and play and was discussed along with the Galapagos Islands on CBS’ Early Show as a “green vacation” destination.
“To be named along with the Galapagos Islands, I think we are in pretty good company,” Mr. Doak said.
When the final numbers are tallied, Hamilton County officials said they expect the economic impact from tourism during the past year to exceed $700 million.
The county’s 4 percent lodging tax revenues increased about 10 percent in fiscal year 2008 to more than $4.5 million, which Mr. Doak said was a record even in a down economy.
“Despite the economic downturn the country has faced, Chattanooga has managed to hold its own,” he said.