BRISTOL, Tenn. — Five community leaders were appointed Thursday to serve on Bristol, Tennessee’s new destination marketing organization’s board of directors.
Leah Ross, executive director of the Birthplace of Country Music, and Ken Monyak with Bristol Station Brews & Taproom will serve until June 30, 2024. Brian Deal with Tenneva Hotel and Tim Landis, who has outdoor and fishing expertise, will serve until June 30, 2023. Tammy Havens from Fairfield Inn & Suites will serve until June 30, 2022. Two seats that are vacant will also serve until June 30, 2022.
“We really appreciate people’s willingness to serve,” said Councilwoman Margaret Feierabend.
City Council voted in May to form its own tourism arm, the Bristol Regional Tourism Marketing Corp., to promote the region as a tourist destination by touting its assets like shopping, nature and music.
Eight people were nominated, but the five were chosen after a tally and runoff vote.
Although council members were set to nominate the seven members they have the authority to appoint, members chose to keep two seats vacant to better coordinate representation from Bristol Motor Speedway and The Pinnacle. City Council will vote at a later date to nominate people from both organizations.
According to the corporation’s bylaws, two board members must be City Council members. Mayor Mahlon Luttrell will serve as long as he is mayor, and Councilwoman Lea Powers will serve as long as she is designated by City Council to do so.
“I’m very glad that this council has had the will to do the due diligence [and] research it with an open mind,” Powers said. “I’m very excited about [what] the future holds for us.”
Once the board is established, the members will appoint two more members to serve at-large — meaning they don’t necessarily have to hail from the tourism, hospitality or restaurant sectors.
The board of directors will have 11 members unless another funding member joins the corporation, in which case the board would be expanded to accommodate their representation.
City staff members have begun soliciting resumes for the corporation’s full-time executive director. The expectation is the chosen applicant will be in place by January.
“We’re embarking on an interesting journey going forward,” Feierabend said. “It’s exciting. It’s also risky. We’re anxious to see how things will come together and the journey going forward.”
Since 1985, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce provided tourism marketing services for both Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia via TV commercials, social media, print and billboards.
Over the course of several years, however, the Bristol Tennessee City Council became dissatisfied with the services provided by the chamber’s tourism arm and decided to cease funding at the conclusion of the 2020-21 fiscal year.
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