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Small Businesses, Restaurants Shine As International Influencers Tour UC

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Small Businesses, Restaurants Shine As International Influencers Tour UC

The Upper Cumberland captivated a group of 17 influencers from five different countries who toured the community last weekend.

That according to Cookeville Putnam County Director of Tourism Shan Stout. Stout said the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has been working to orchestrate this tour for some 20 years. Stout said the group spent Saturday morning touring Cookeville’s West Side district. She said the group was blown away by the abundant small businesses and locally owned restaurants.

“They said that Cookeville is the perfect opportunity because it’s not so off the grid that people can’t get to it,” Stout said. “It’s very accessible, and it has a very small-town feel, but it also feels very safe and very hospitable, so they loved the people, they loved the atmosphere, and they were in love with the small businesses and the restaurants.”

Stout said the program allows the influencers to return to their home countries and offer travel agencies some perspective on small towns in the southern United States. Stout said this group, the largest Cookeville has ever hosted, said the hospitality makes Cookeville easy to sell as a vacation destination.

“They said the southern hospitality itself is a tourist attraction for us because we don’t understand it, but we are drawn to it like a magnet,” Stout said. “I thought that was a great thing.”

Stout said businesses on East and West Broad Street opened early Saturday so that the visitors could meet the owners and shop. Stout said the group was also enthralled by the vast opportunities offered by the Upper Cumberland’s diverse landscape. One visitor said that the largest waterfall in their hometown is 20 feet tall, and they were amazed that the Upper Cumberland is home to over 150 waterfalls, some of which are more than 130 feet high.

Stout said Cookeville will reap the benefits of this program through sales and lodging revenue when these tourists spread the word about what the city has to offer.

“Probably within 9-12 months, we’re going to start seeing travelers that have been sent by their travel agencies overseas to come to Cookeville as a destination, and we helped these influencers kind of map out what that would look like so that they are not just coming here blindly,” Stout said.

Stout said several of the influencers are from the UK, with others from the Netherlands and South America. Stout said being chosen for this rare opportunity speaks to Cookeville’s relationship with the state.

“It is a testament to how valuable the state thought it would be to bring this group to the Upper Cumberland area to see what we have to offer,” Stout said.


The post Small Businesses, Restaurants Shine As International Influencers Tour UC appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.