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John and Sherry Britton, from Marietta, Ga., look off of the bluff at Lover's Leap at Rock City on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in Lookout Mountain, Ga. / Staff photo by John Rawlston

The Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau was all set to roll out a new branding campaign complete with a new logo and name when the coronavirus pandemic became everybody's top priority.

So while the CVB is now known as the Chattanooga Tourism Company with a new URL for its website at visitchattanooga.com, the organization's work has been focused on working with local partners and businesses to provide any support it can, according to President Barry White.

"Once this virus happened, we moved the name change to the back burner," he said.

White said while it goes against everything he would normally be advocating, he is currently urging people to shelter in place "and stay home so that we can get through this."

Once that happens, he said, the Chattanooga Tourism Co. we will urging people to come to Chattanooga through a new marketing campaign.

The name change is the result of a three-year strategic plan similar to what other convention and visitors' bureaus around the country have been undergoing. White said the branding changes are designed to "better communicate what we actually do" both to Chattanooga residents and potential visitors from other areas. Chattanooga Tourism Co. should answer the question for locals, for example, of "what do you do for a living?" he said.

 

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Visit the Chattanooga Tourism Company at visitchattanooga.com

The "Visit Chattanooga" name in the website, conversely, is what people outside the area will hopefully be considering. White said that as part of the strategic planning, it emerged that many people in the Chattanooga area don't see how the organization markets the city to people outside of the area. As a result, residents sometimes aren't aware of the what there is to do and see in their own community.

"Right now our focus is on working with people here to get through this, and once we get the all clear, we will have some new branding and messaging with a plan to ensure that the local community understand what we do and why we do it," White said. "The overwhelming majority of our advertising happens outside of Chattanooga, so people don't really know what we do."

A two-year-old study found that about 75 percent of tourists to the Chattanooga area travel from markets within a 2-to-3-hour drive, like Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham and Knoxville.

According to the CVB, tourists spent $1.16 billion dollars in 2018 in Hamilton County. Those dollars represented 8,970 hospitality jobs and $15.1 million in occupancy taxes collected by the city and county.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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