Project Description

Implementing an Outdoor Adventure Tourism Program

Legacy Parks Foundation turned to Ackermann PR to bring its outdoor adventure vision to life

Issue
Outdoor/adventure tourism is one the fastest growing tourism segments, reaching $260 billion in 2013. East Tennessee, anchored by Knoxville, possesses some of the country’s most outstanding outdoor/adventure natural resources and assets. No one organization in East Tennessee was focused on developing, marketing or promoting outdoor/adventure tourism. In the face of this void, Legacy Parks Foundation stepped in to serve as a catalyst and driver to develop and implement an East Tennessee Outdoor/Adventure Tourism Program.

Legacy Parks is a non-profit organization that works to assure that the East Tennessee community enjoys exceptional recreational opportunities, natural beauty and open spaces, and that those assets exist for generations to come.

Idea
Ackermann PR recommended the development of a strategic brand and marketing planning process and plan. A comprehensive research phase was the first step. We gathered input from community stakeholders, benchmarked successful adventure tourism areas across the United States and developed a database of demographic and psychographic information regarding the outdoor/adventure tourist.

Informed by the research findings, Ackermann PR created a comprehensive strategic plan that included: a structure for operating an outdoor/adventure tourism organization; a brand strategy and platform; a multi-media marketing plan; a plan for resource development to fund the tourism initiative; a community communications plan to create awareness and build community support; and measurement and evaluation recommendations.

Impact
The implementation of the strategic plan generated outstanding results. The 16-county area surrounding Knoxville and the State of Tennessee enthusiastically embraced the outdoor/adventure tourism initiative. We helped Legacy Parks create the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center as a focal point of the initiative. Working in conjunction with the area’s long-standing Dogwood Arts Festival, Legacy Parks created “Outdoor Knoxfest” which offers three days of urban adventure that is attracting outdoor enthusiasts from across the country.

CheckPoint Tracker, the nation’s largest adventure racing series, selected Knoxville to host its 2013 National Championships and has committed to continue to hold its championships in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. Through Legacy Parks’ efforts, the State of Tennessee has designated an area of the Urban Wilderness as the state’s 56th and only “Birding” State Park. Exemplifying the community’s support is the fact that citizens have stepped forward to donate family-owned land to expand the 1,000+ acre Urban Wilderness.

National Media Coverage:

  • Knoxville gets acclaim as a “Big City Wilderness” – Backpacker Magazine
  • Knoxville boasted as an outdoor recreational destination – Group Tour Magazine
  • Knoxville ranked #5 in the top 10 U.S. October Destinations – Reuters.com
  • Contender for Best Mountain Town in 2012 – Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine
  • Unique Singletrack in the City – Bicycling Magazine’s Mountain Bike Issue
  • Now-lovely Knoxville defies critics of old – Herald-Journal
  • Knoxville now a Jaunty City – New York Post
  • Today’s Knoxville offers stellar opportunities for outdoor recreation – Harrisburg, PA Magazine
  • Once Scruffy – Knoxville now tourist destination – Winston-Salem Journal