After receiving feedback from the Tennessee hospitality and tourism industry across the state and following discussion by the many partners who work together to plan and produce the annual Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism (GCHT), the difficult decision has been made to cancel the in-person 2020 Governor’s Conference which was scheduled for September 16-18 in Murfreesboro.
In its place, the Department of Tourist Development and HospitalityTN will be planning and producing a virtual Tourism Leadership Summit in September focusing on how the industry and the state move forward.
Information on this event will be available soon.
“These have been particularly difficult times for our industry in terms of finances, travel restrictions, staff reductions, and programs of work,” said 2020 HospitalityTN Chair Hugh Morrow. “Our survey of the industry showed that 63% of respondents said they would be unable to attend, and 86% of sponsors said that they would be not be able to support the conference this year.” HospitalityTN is the producer of the annual conference in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Other primary concerns in making this decision were the uncertainty of future conditions regarding the COVID-19 situation and the logistics of conducting a conference under social distancing guidelines.
“Safety is our top priority for residents and visitors alike, and we look forward to the time when we can gather together again. For now, we remain focused on rebuilding our state’s vitally important hospitality and tourism industry,” said Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Director of the state’s Economic Recovery Group. “Given the circumstances and feedback from members of the industry, it’s clear this is the right decision. We are grateful to our partners at HospitalityTN and across the state who have kept our industry connected and prepared throughout this crisis.”
The 2021 GCHT has already been scheduled for Sept. 15-17, 2021 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro.
“We certainly understand and support the need to postpone the conference to 2021,” said Barbara Wolke, Senior Vice President of the Rutherford County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re going to re-work and shift the great plans we had for hosting this year’s event to next year and make sure that our industry is welcomed in a grand way in 2021.”