Wilson County is not only becoming a destination for families moving into middle Tennessee but is also becoming a visitor’s hot spot in and of itself. And why not? The area has it all. Wilson County is surrounded by lakes, rivers and open-air green areas on one side and a bustling metropolitan city on the other. Visitors are sure to love the quaint antique stores found in the city squares, family diners nestled throughout the county or various points of interest. For those visitors who are looking for more, the county offers the Prime Outlet Mall and the new Providence Marketplace. Fine eateries abound and those visiting are sure to fi nd a place to stay at one of our many hotels.
The numbers of those visiting our area has grown exponentially in the last few years. In fact, Wilson County tourism spending in Wilson County has grown 22.7% in the last few years, outpacing the 17.3% overall growth in tourism spending statewide in Tennessee. The hotel, restaurant and travel sectors of the Wilson County economy ranks fiffth in industry employment in the county, employing 10.1% of all workers (or one out of every 10 workers) in Wilson County. And those tourists are spending their money in our county. For instance in 2006, tourist activity in the county, generated over ninety-one million dollars in direct tourist spending. On an average day in the county, tourists spend $249,966.00 dollars per day between restaurants, bars, groceries, transportation, lodging, retail trade and entertainment. Because of these tourists and their spending, the county generated 2.67 million dollars in local tax revenue, which resulted in each household paying $201.00 less in local and state taxes, $66.00 less in local county taxes and $134.00 dollars less in state taxes.
The job of promoting all that there is to see and do in the area falls on the Wilson County Convention & Visitors Bureau located at 233 E. Gay Street, in the Courthouse Annex. The department is headed by Ricky Rodriguez (pictured right) who has been running this Bureau since 2002.
The Wilson County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is the county’s official destination management organization. It’s a governmental agency that serves at the pleasure of the County Commission and the County Mayor. Its primary mission is to position the county as a premiere year round visitation destination and to positively impact the area’s economy through marketing efforts. It also strives to provide excellent customer services to the many visitors who come to the area and to encourage repeat and extended stays at local hotel properties.
With so much to manage and do, it’s good to know that the Director of the Bureau came to this job with an extensive background. Prior to joining the CVB, Mr. Rodriguez worked for nearly a decade with Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. While at Gaylord Opryland, he worked in different capacities ranging from business development to international sales but ultimately enjoyed and spent most of his time working the southeast domestic travel market as the Southeastern Sales Manager for the Travel Marketing & Sales Department. In this capacity, he actively identified and implemented strategies with the objective of attracting groups to the hotel and attractions complex.
Mr. Rodriguez continues in this line of work but now he does it for us. He is constantly working on finding ways to not only promote the area but to also encourage visitors to come, stay a while and spend their buying dollars in our county. When Mr. Rodriguez is not working he remains active in various civic and cultural causes. He’s Past-Chairman of the Middle Tennessee Tourism Council, Past-Board Member of Main Street Lebanon and Leadership Wilson. He’s been actively involved with The United Way of Wilson County, the local Chamber of Commerce Offices, Wilson County Sports Council, Lebanon Sports Commission, Nashville Attractions Coalition, Circle Nashville and Destination Marketing International Association. He’s currently serving as the Tennessee Vice-Chair and Board Member of the Southeast Tourism Society, Board Member of Tennessee Tourism Roundtable andChair of the Tennessee Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus.
He has also been recognized for his leadership abilities and has received awards ranging from the “George T. Synder Travel Industry Award” from Gaylord Opryland Hotel and “Wilsonian of the Year” from the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce. So when he isn’t working or devoting his time to community boards, he spends his quality time devoted to his two children. Mr.Rodriguez makes Mt. Juliet his home and although he has lived in many places during his life, he believes this is his last stop because he not only loves his job but also loves his new hometown.
To say we are in good hands is certainly an understatement. Joining the CVB team is Heather Spillman and Amy Edmonds Mason. Ms. Spillman is the Sales & Marketing Manager of the CVB and her job is to direct and perform sales and marketing activities required to solicit and book meetings and/or functions for the area, resulting in increased hotel occupancy and media exposure.
Ms. Mason is the CVB Marketing Assistant and her job is to assist with administrative duties related to the day-to-day operations of the Bureau, as well as, to assist with all segments of the communication, public relations, sales & marketing programs.
Together this team is seeing to it that visitors not only come to the area but come back often and tell others about their wonderful experience. One way they are sharing all that is going on in Wilson County with the world is with the CVB’s new website www.visitwilsoncounty.com. This is a one stop website where visitors and local residents can fi nd out all that is going on in the area. The website has a local calendar listing all the upcoming events that can be found in Wilson County. Residents and visitors can also find coupons that can be used at many of the local eateries, hotels and stores in Wilson County. The site also has current and constantly updated information about where to stay in the area and what to do while here. Additionally, the website also has a wide assortment of photos and features showcasing Wilson County.
Take a minute to check out their website and make sure to share it with all your friends and family when they make plans to visit.
For more great stories on Wilson County visit Wilson Living Magazine at www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com