Cookeville-Putnam County represented at 2019 Congressional Summit on Travel & Tourism

Tennessee travel industry represented as an economic driver in Washington, D.C. at 2019 STS Congressional Summit on Travel & Tourism, a first for Cookeville-Putnam County. From left is Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau; Steve May, director of Lynchburg Homeplace, Jack Daniel Distillery; Sara Beth Urban, Middle Tennessee division manager, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development; John Rose, U.S. Congressman, Tennessee’s Sixth Congressional District; Barbara Wolke, congressional summit chair/senior vice president, Rutherford County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau; and Donna Klempnow, director of sales, Rutherford County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau.

WASHINGTON – For the first time in Putnam County’s visitor development history, the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau had the honor of attending the Congressional Summit on Travel & Tourism taking place June 11-13 in Washington, D.C. and hosted by the Southeast Tourism Society (STS). The summit offered an opportunity to proactively engage legislators and educate them on the economic impact of tourism, the issues vital to the health and growth of the industry, and to share success stories.

Vice President of Visitor Development Zach Ledbetter attended on behalf of the visitors’ bureau, noting the significance of having a presence among the Southeast’s travel industry leaders and in sharing the value of tourism with Tennessee’s legislators.

“Having the opportunity to attend the 2019 STS Congressional Summit on Travel & Tourism was not only a privilege personally, but for our community,” said Ledbetter. “To be seen as a Top 20 travel destination and a strong economic driver for Tennessee and to share with our legislators the challenges our industry faces allows our community to be held to a higher regard as a visitor destination.” 

While in attendance, Ledbetter had the opportunity to network with industry leaders, federal partners, and congressional staff; work as a team with other travel industry professionals to take a stand on the issues impacting the industry; learn about policy changes that could impact local hospitality businesses; meet with representatives to discuss the issues most important to travel & tourism; and come together as a united front and actively participate in the legislative process.

In addition to being among STS leadership and industry representatives from throughout the Southeast, Ledbetter teamed up with Tennessee partners from destinations and attractions across the state including the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Rutherford County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, Bristol TN/VA Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, and Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

“Advocacy for our industry is essential,” added Ledbetter. “Our visitors’ bureau is at a level of generating economic impact for this community and region in which we must have a strong presence and build relationships with our legislators.”

The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, a program of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the designated destination marketing organization (DMO) for Putnam County and is funded by a portion of the Putnam County lodging tax, a tax paid by visitors’ and collected by local lodging partners such as hotels, bed & breakfasts, etc. Ranking at 17th of Tennessee’s 95 counties, the visitors’ bureau is tasked with inspiring travel and overnight stays in Putnam County. Primary marketing pillars in drive and fly markets include outdoors; fitness/sports; motorcycling; arts/culture; and culinary/crafts. Most recent U.S. Travel Association statistics note visitor spending in Putnam County generated $2.7 million in local tax revenue, annually, providing a tax relief for local residents of $358.47 per household. To learn more about the work of the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, go to or request additional information at

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.