Promotion of Oak Ridge garners tourism awards – Oakridger


Oak Ridge is getting some recognition for excellence in promoting tourism.
The Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council, which promotes tourism activities and represents a 16-county region including Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cooke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier and Union counties, announced their 2022 Excellence in Tourism Awards on Dec. 1.
“There are five awards given annually for excellence in promoting tourism within the METTC region and this year two Oak Ridge organizations received two of those awards,” Explore Oak Ridge President Katy Watt said in a news release. “We are so proud of our city for making such a big impact!”
The Oak Ridge Lavender Festival was awarded the 2022 Best Annual Festival or Event Award. Beginning in 1999, this Oak Ridge event has grown larger and more popular each year. With 100-plus artisans, live music, children’s activities, speakers and demonstrations, its Nine Lakes wine tasting, a Friday herb luncheon, and a new tour of gardens, it is the longest running festival of its kind in the Southeast and the only Lavender Festival in Tennessee.
“The 2022 festival, which took place in Jackson Square on June 18, brought in 22,000 people,” Watt said. She added that this festival has become one of the must-see summer events in the METTC region. The award was accepted by Barbara Ferrell and Rebecca Williams.
Explore Oak Ridge was awarded the Excellence in Tourism Award for Best Advertising or Marketing Campaign for the “Katie the Calutron Girl” marketing promotion. As part of the “Sharing Our Secrets” marketing campaign of Explore Oak Ridge, “Katie the Calutron Girl” appears in a series of short videos taking the viewer to various attractions in the Secret City such as the X10 Graphite Reactor, Historic Jackson Square, the American Museum of Science & Energy, Building 9731 at Y-12 National Security Complex and United Church, Chapel on the Hill, to name just a few places. Appearing on Explore Oak Ridge’s various social media channels and website, it invites visitors to come explore all that can be experienced in the Secret City.
Recently, the National Park Service selected the video series to be incorporated into its educational programming and lesson plans for teachers to use when teaching about the Manhattan Project and the science behind the development of the project. The videos are a joint project between Explore Oak Ridge and New Frame Creative, and they feature Kadi Brazil as “Katie the Calutron Girl”. If you haven’t seen the videos, you can see them at The award was accepted by Watt.
Watt, Williams and Ferrell were honored at this month’s Oak Ridge City Council meeting.
Tourism is the second largest industry in the state and in 2021, tourists visiting the area spent $159.4 million in Anderson County, according to the release. That means visitors directly generated $12.9 million in state and local taxes, which represents a $417 tax savings for every household in Anderson County.
Tourism promotion in Oak Ridge and Anderson County is funded by taxes paid by visitors staying in local hotels, in the form of an occupancy tax. This means the tourism promotion of the area is paid for by people visiting the area and not out of tax dollars paid by local residents.


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