Nov 19, 2021 - Business

Reassessing Nashville's tourism brand

The main drag of Broadway in Nashville.

Photo: Adam Gray/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Ryman Hospitality chairman and CEO Colin Reed says the time is right for Nashville's hospitality industry to gameplan for its future.

  • His remarks come after an impassioned debate over party buses, the latest in a long list of tourist-focused offerings Metro has regulated, including electric scooters, golf carts, and pedal taverns.
  • Ryman is Nashville's largest hospitality company, counting the Opryland Hotel, Grand Ole Opry, and Ryman Auditorium among its assets.

Why it matters: The increasingly chaotic energy of Lower Broadway has created a sort of existential crisis for Nashville and its relationship with tourism.

What he's saying: Reed says Nashville should be proud of the growth of the tourism industry, which has added thousands of hotel rooms, created new jobs, generated millions in annual tax dollars, and built a globally recognized music brand.

Yes, but: He also acknowledges the growing pains.

  • "It's time for the industry to be reassessed and for the vision for the next 10 years to be determined," Reed tells Axios.
  • "I am going to spend, personally, more of my time preaching this message about brand modification and building plans to deal with problems we have."

What's next: Reed says he has discussed the idea with Mayor John Cooper and Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. president and CEO Butch Spyridon. The stage appears to be set for the city's tourism leaders to embark on a long-term strategic plan.

  • Cooper said through a spokesperson the city should "support institutions that are regional draws for family tourism" such as Fisk University's Jubilee Hall, the zoo, and the National Museum of African American Music.

The big picture: Spyridon tells Axios that music should remain the foundation of Nashville's tourism strategy from a marketing perspective, which also includes its growing culinary, fashion and arts scenes.

  • "The bigger issues are growing pains from the (party) vehicles themselves, to homelessness, to trash, to safety," Spyridon says. "Those are all really important issues. Any one of them could do enormous damage to our level of business."

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