The Cleveland/Bradley Convention and Visitors Bureau unveiled its new look Thursday along with some good news about the local tourism industry.
“We’ve had a really healthy tourism industry this past year,” said Melissa Woody, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce vice president of the CVB.
Woody said each year the state ranks the different counties and how tourism impacts their local economies.
“In 2011, we came in second as far as growth rate is concerned,” Woody said. “That shows how healthy we are from year to year. When I looked at  numbers, I saw our rate was at 9.43 percent. That means Bradley County had the highest growth rate in the entire state when it comes to tourism growth.”
She also reported Bradley County generated $122 in revenues during the year.
“That ends up being $9 million in state and local taxes,” Woody said. “It also saves each county household $261.43 in taxes. It would be that much more to pay in taxes to enjoy the things we enjoy as residents if it weren’t for tourism spending.”
Tourism was also responsible for generating 860 jobs during the same reporting period.
Despite the success, Woody said a study showed the county may be trying to reach too many people outside of the market with the small amount of dollars available to the bureau.
She said the research has helped to developed a new media plan concerning the best way to use the bureau’s advertising dollars.
Woody said the process led to the decision to develop a new logo for the CVB.
“For years we have used the Chamber of Commerce logo and I am very proud to be a part of the Chamber team,” Woody said. “Many other communities that are larger than us have standalone visitor bureaus. I don’t want that. We can’t sustain that in our community with the funding we have. I am thankful to be a part of such a wonderful family at the Chamber.”
She said most advertising in tourism magazines features “vertical” logos.
“You also have to think about what visitors are looking for when they are trying to find you,” Woody said. “They don’t care that you’re from a Chamber of Commerce. They don’t care if you work for the county or the city. They just want to visit your area and have a good time. They want to be able to find you. They want to be able to put in and address with a city and a zip code.”
With those things in mind, the new logo which highlights the words “Cleveland” and “Charleston” was born. It does keep the identity of the Chamber at the bottom.
“Charleston is a big player and they are doing a lot of development,” Woody said. “I felt we needed to bring people to both of our municipalities.”
The bureau will also introduce a new guide, with a new phrase: “Put us on your plate.”
The new guides and advertising campaign will feature Lee University student Cody Glover acting as a server with local activities and places displayed on plates.
“He represents all of our serving community and he wants to show you what we have to offer,” Woody said.
“The concept is a family comes here and they say to a server, ‘What else can we do while we’re here?’ and he’s ready to offer suggestions,” she said.
“The bureau’s guides will also use the phrase ‘Southeast Tennessee’ so people will know where we are,” Woody said. “It’s makes it easier when you look at a rack. We’re tying to make it easier to see and find.”
She said the Hiwassee River Heritage Center has drawn more than 600 visitors since May of this year.
“We’re so proud of the center and have plans to expand the center,” Woody said. “We plan to expand the exhibit space and also a meeting space. That plan is estimated to be about $250,000. We already have $115,000 raised.”
She also announce the center has been certified by the National Park Service as an interpretive site for the Trail of Tears.
“After waiting three years, we are at the top of their lineup to develop a greenway from the center to a river park on the Hiwassee,” Woody said. “[NPS representatives] are coming here for a weeklong planning session. They want us to start calling it ‘The National Historic Trail Experience’ rather than a greenway, because it will have much more of a cultural and historic feel.”