With the goal of more effectively marketing the City of Gatlinburg and maximizing efforts to promote local tourism, officials have finalized the formation of a Tourism Development Authority, successfully combining the tourism marketing functions of the City and the Chamber of Commerce into one entity doing business as the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau as of July 1. This reorganization also provides for more direct involvement in the marketing of the City by the business community.
      City Commission’s creation of the TDA gives the new entity tax-exempt status and paved the way for the formation of a new GCVB Board of Directors, made up of members from the City Tourism Advisory Board and the Chamber Board of Directors, as well as the City Manager, two City Commissioners and a City Commission appointee. That Board, including 27 sitting and three ex-officio members, met formally for the first time in late June to continue the process of placing all of Gatlinburg’s marketing tools under one umbrella to avoid duplication of efforts and minimize visitor confusion when seeking tourism information about Gatlinburg.
      Executive Director of the Chamber, Vicki Simms, is serving as Interim Executive Director of the GCVB, which initially includes 17 full-time and 10 part-time/seasonal employees. A search committee was formed at the recent organizational meeting of the GCVB and that committee will receive and review applications for the positions of Executive Director and Director of Sales along with other current vacant positions.
      ”This is a well thought out process which we have worked on for quite some time and have taken great care with to get it right,” said Mayor Mike Werner.
      “By combining the strengths of the Department of Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce, we will be a lot more effective in marketing Gatlinburg,” said City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. "Bringing visitors into town is the main goal of everyone involved in this process.”
      The City’s tourism promotion functions have been rolled into the GCVB, allowing it to take over marketing and selling the city as a destination, marketing and selling the convention center, operating welcome centers and managing special events. Convention Center operations and maintenance remain as a Department of the City.
      The GCVB likewise has contracted with the Chamber, taking over operations including the visitor call center; producing, distributing and marketing the vacation guide, maintaining and operating the Gatlinburg.com website and continuing membership development and services.