Tri-Cities Airport, state leaders respond to ‘Tennessee on Me’ expansion


BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Following Wednesday’s announcement that the “Tennessee on Me” campaign will now include the Tri-Cities, local airport and state leaders are responding.

“We’re glad we were able to develop that dialogue and get that attention brought to the Northeast part of the state,” Tri-Cities Airport Executive Director Gene Cossey said.

Cossey said before the COVID-19 pandemic, about half a million people were flying in and out of the airport in a year.

“COVID has changed all of that,” Cossey said. “We’re hoping that as we get outside of COVID, we go back into those numbers.”

Which is one reason why Cossey and state leaders fought to have the Tri-Cities added to the “Tennessee on Me” campaign.

“I think there were clear unanimity from all of us in Northeast Tennessee from what happened and what a grave mistake they made because we’re an integral part of Tennessee and the tourism economy,” Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) said.

Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Mark Ezell released a statement following the Tri-Cities inclusion.

“Gov. Lee and our department heard requests from our stakeholders in the Tri-Cities and made the decision to expand, as the cities surrounding the state’s fifth commercial airport, hotels in Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport have been invited to participate in the campaign. We’re thrilled to have those businesses, restaurants and attractions in surrounding communities considered as visitors make their travel plans.”

Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Lundberg said now he’s looking to the future.

“When I chatted with tourism commissioner yesterday and asked him how many had already taken part in the promotion, and it was about a thousand people and realize I think it will pull 10,000, 10,000 are eligible,” Lundberg said. “‘Will it have an impact? Yes. Will it have a major impact? To be determined.'”

Cossey said entertainment and food are just a couple of the attractions the Tri-Cities has to offer tourists.

“We have all the great outdoor activities to do,” Cossey said. “It’s just a beautiful, wonderful place to be, and one of the most friendly places on earth that you can visit.”

For booking information, visit the campaign’s site.

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