‘A challenge’ for Farragut to draw tourists: hoteliers

Most of Farragut’s nine hoteliers agreed a majority of their clientele stay in Farragut for the low rates and proximity to Knoxville and Oak Ridge, especially businesses — while two questioned the drawing power of any specific attractions in Farragut.

In a first-of-its-kind meeting between Town hoteliers and Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen, along with Town and county parks and tourism officials Tuesday, July 10, in Farragut Town Hall, “Our highest occupancies are when there are events in Knoxville or Oak Ridge,” said Amit Patel, representing Comfort Suites. “I’m not sure if I can think of anything to bring them to Farragut, just to be in Farragut.”

Trent Walker of Fairfield Inn and Suites said he sees “a challenge for Farragut to become a destination.”

Alderman Louise Povlin said Farragut “has to be both (offering) hospitality and


Farragut Tourism coordinator Karen Tindal reported statistics stating Farragut hotels typically are filled at 65 to 70 percent capacity — which is above the national average.

“You are already doing a great job at filling the hotels, now what can we do (to help)?” she added.

Several of the Farragut hotels provide bus service to events, such as University of Tennessee football games, and Akshay Hira of Clarion Inn and Suites

suggested possibly offering

other activities, so shuttles would take visitors to other area events.

The group also discussed how Farragut could possibly assist hotels during months they have lower capacities, and Povlin

suggested there could be tie-ins between hotels and Turkey

Creek stores to promote shopping opportunities after the holidays, to possibly bring in more hotel guests.

They also addressed the lower occupancy tax Farragut hotel guests enjoy. The county imposes a 5 percent rate, while the

City of Knoxville imposes a 3 percent rate. Farragut proposed to assess its own occupancy tax of up to 2.5 percent earlier

this year, on top of the county

tax, but the motion was


Patel said the lesser rate likely does impact guest stays, especially among businesses that are negotiating rates.

The group was first treated to viewing the new Visit Farragut website, which was launched June 1. The site can be accessed through www.townoffarragut.org or through www.visitfarrgut.org/.

Also giving input was Farragut and Jill Thompson of

the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association.

The group met for a little more than an hour, with Tindal suggesting another meeting later in the fall.

Tindal, who has been on the job since February, showcased several of the site’s key features and subsections, including an events calendar and tabs for “stay (hotels/motels), “shop and dine” and “play,” the latter of which specifically highlights the Town’s numerous parks and recreation opportunities.

She asked the group for input specifically regarding the directories and possibly if any hotel guests had made requests that might help the site.

Patel said “restaurants are the most important things our guest ask for” and said it would also be “helpful to know who is available for (restaurant) delivery.”

Tindal said the Town has an intern this summer who has been tasked with compiling as many restaurant listings as possible, but that she also is relying on word of mouth to ensure the list is as comprehensive as possible.

Darren Tallent of Hampton Inn suggested a map might be helpful for guests.

“Just something they could have in their hands, or something we could print out,” he said.

Promoting the Town’s greenways and trails was also a point of discussion, with Parks & Leisure Services director Sue Stuhl noting the Town is working with the City of Knoxville and Knox County on a comprehensive listing/map, which is currently in development.