Gov. Lee responds to critics of free airfare program

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters in Gainsboro on July 8. 2021. (Image credit: State of Tennessee)

Gov. Bill Lee spoke to reporters for the first time late last week about his program to give away $250 flight vouchers to tourists who book two-night stays in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.

Here is what he said:

Q: Why is this program necessary?

Lee: The tourism industry in this state is the second-largest generator of tax revenue for Tennessee. It’s an enormous industry in our state. And it’s suffered tremendously through the pandemic, arguably as much as any other industry in the state. An effective marketing campaign is the strategy there. We accomplished that. I’m committed to the tourism industry and will continue to be. That was a relatively small financial commitment, that particular campaign. But we have plans for commitment and investment in recruiting folks to Tennessee, especially to rural counties and to places that are not traditionally where they come. But need to invest in tourism. I’m glad we did it.

Q: Lt. Gov. Randy McNally has been critical, saying he thought more areas should be involved. And some people are critical over the ad. How do you respond?

Lee: Always a lot of critics. But that comes with politics. But what we’re committed on is creating opportunity and jobs in this state and a return on investment. And that was a marketing campaign that will have a great return on investment. It will help support a very important industry in this state. And it is one of a comprehensive approach we will take in tourism investment over the year.

Q: Some of the Republicans in the Senate particularly felt blindsided. Have you spoken to the Lt. Gov. or finance chairs to allay some of those concerns?

Lee: I’ve spoken to the lieutenant governor a couple times, but not on that issue. The lieutenant governor and I have a very good relationship and very strong working relationship. We don’t agree on everything, but we work together for a lot. I actually haven’t talked to him about that issue. As I said, it’s one of many investments in tourism development that we will make. It’s a return on investment.

Q: So you intend to continue with the Tennessee On Me campaign?

Lee: Yeah. It’s already rolled out. It’s out there. We’re fortunate that we had a global music guy in Brad Paisley willing to push that out through his channel. It was a message sent out to millions of people across America that Tennessee is a place to think about coming to.

30 Responses to Gov. Lee responds to critics of free airfare program

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    #LeeTheTyrant Stop spending MY money on Tennessee On Me

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    Susan E Gingrich says:

    Since the cost of gas is up, how about reducing the gas tax since the state has money to promote air travel for non-residents?

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    Karen Bracken says:

    With everything this guy has done the TN voter will vote for him again. He banks on the short memory and complacency of the voter to pull the lever for him again. I was right not to vote for him the first time and I sure as heck won’t be voting for him the next time either. I don’t forget!!

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      If you around this forum back in 2016 you will recall how I begged Republicans to vote for Diane Black, warning that while Randy Boyd would be far worse than Haslam, Lee was a No Record Candidate who simply didn’t deserve consideration for high office and probably would be Haslam (2). In any case what we were about to vote for we will have for EIGHT years because Tennesseans simply don’t like to throw out high office holders when they run for re-election especially when they are Bredesen-Haslam-Lee blah.

      And so they elected Lee with 37% of the votes, and we have a Governor a tiny bit to the right of Haslam and there is no one in public office who is even questioning whether we should have a electoral system where we elect high officials with 37% of the votes. Surely we will be stuck for another four years to complete the EIGHT I predicted. In 2026 hopefully Marvelous Mark Green (Heritage-96%) will run and Tennessee Republicans will do better. In the meantime, there’s the 3 1/2 Lamars Retirement Project to get to.

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        Cryan says:

        And here come RINO Bill Lee’s supporter(s) to try to distract you from the pain being caused by our dictator governor. “Look, focus on some out-of-state Senate primary because there’s nothing you can do about the Tennessee primary.” You make no sense, RINO.

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          Taxpayer #314 says:

          So, Lee admits that he doesn’t talk to his assistants about governing, he just jumps into his crazy ideas with taxpayer’s money going out the door for Non-Tennesseans. He was elected by a minority vote and wants to dictate his will on controversial programs that even his own republicans don’t like. Folks, you need to register to vote and reign in these political “Bosses.”

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    Cryan says:

    While it’s laughable that Bill Lee could beat Trump, Hawley, Cruz, DeSantis, Noem, Abbot, or Nikki Haley, his delusions of grandeur are dangerous to Tennesseans. He is turning his back on Tennessee to raise his national profile because that one invitation to the Whitehouse went straight to his lizard brain.

    Put a stop to his delusions and make him a one term governor. Democrats can’t do it. Step up Republicans and get rid of this ineffective governor who won’t even collaborate with the Republican Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House, who killed small businesses, who flooded our state with “refugees,” and who continues to vaccinate children without parental consent.

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      Jan Randles says:

      Is he not aware that during a pandemic the National Park in TN was flooded with 12 million visitors last year?? I don’t think the tourist industry suffered as much as he says. I avoided the Park as a resident who lives nearby due to the congestion. Nashville certainly had bus loads of drunks televised. He has nothing “under control” with a statewide vaccination rate of 38%. Perhaps he should advertise that! That money could be spent on infrastructure for the residents of this state instead of clamoring for more tourists. Sounds like he is trying to make a national name for himself. He already has a name for himself in the state but not a very good one. Vote him out!

      • Avatar
        ted risner says:

        how did Tennessee suffer when they have billions in surplus? all mind games by Q’anon worshippers

        • Avatar
          James White says:

          The only people that believe in ” Q’anon ” are you liberal democrats.

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            Cryan says:

            I had no idea Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Marjorie Taylor Green, Lauren Boebert, Steve Bannon, Kraken lady, and 30% of Republicans were actually liberal Democrats. Interesting!

            Where we go 1, we go all.

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            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Indeed James, the left has fantasizers and dramatists whose creations include Q’anon that only a tiny fraction of people have ever heard of before the liberal press made it the flavor of the day or the few hundred unarmed trespassers into the Capitol becoming “INSURRECTIONISTS.” All to distract from the demented Big Guy’s advisers who have all but removed our southern border, increasingly impoverished us with envirofanaticism and out of control spending, dividing us into an increasingly race obsessed country with identity politics, etc. etc.

          • Avatar
            Cryan says:

            Stop playing the race card, Stuart. Bill Lee is falling out of favor fast, and there’s nothing you can post here to change that.

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            Taxpayer #314 says:

            Delusional Stuart, delusional!

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        MARLE says:

        Not interested in defending Lee but how many park visitors needed 2 nights of hotel stay and restaurant food during their Visit? National parks, since they are TAX exempt do not generate any revenue other than those that are peripheral to their Visit. This “tourist initiative” is linked directly to a 2 night stay with all the spending associated with it.

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          LeeAnn C. says:

          Good point! And the 2-night stay is at a limited number of facilities within the 4 urban areas of TN. Some non-chain hotels had to shutter their doors with the Governor LEE imposed ‘guidelines’.

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    I suppose using Globalist Liberal Brad Paisley, #LeeTheTyrant expects to pull some of the Democrats to vote for him.

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      Cryan says:

      Delusions of grandeur. This is man who believes he will be president. It would be funny if he wasn’t screwing Tennesseans with his quixotic national political stunts.

      • Avatar
        LeeAnn C. says:

        I haven’t heard of his presidential aspirations. I’m rather repulsed by the notion!

      • Avatar
        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Nor has anyone else LeeAnn. We have leftist fantasizers on this forum who in the face of the moribund state of the Democratic Party and left-wing politics in Tennessee take to their keyboard to weave magical mystery tours in an attempt to create problems on the right. I suggest conservatives identify the leftists on this forum and simply laugh when they give their “insight” on all things Republican.

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          Taxpayer #314 says:

          Lee says there is always lots of opposition to his decisions – maybe the general public is trying to tell him something! I just wish he would listen to reason at least sometimes.

    • Avatar
      Jan Randles says:

      LOL I am a Democrat and know many other Dems who would never vote for this clown. Brad Paisley is your idea of a liberal?? Definitely not mine.

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    LeeAnn C says:

    Never acknowledging the substance of Lt Gov Randy McNally’s complaint nor the taxpayers. This was not simply a marketing campaign. It’s a handout to people from other states to SPEND in those blue cities that shut themselves down! Arrogant and bull-headed!

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    Gwendolyn BLACKMAN says:

    Claims are that there is a shortage of wait staff, maids, etc., in the hospitality service industry. It seems that money should have been pumped into that area before bringing in tourists who will be impacted by understaffed facilities.

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      MARLE says:

      What “pumped in” money are suggesting could have been spent to make more wait staff and maid show up for work? Just curious.

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      Taxpayer #314 says:

      That makes too much sense for our governor to contemplate, Gwendolyn!

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        How do you “pump in money to areas” so make wait staff and maids to show up for work, Taxpayer (since you think that’s a great idea???

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    Jason Wallflower says:

    What a truly awful Governor. Spending my tax dollars on flight tickets is so messed up.

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    Cryan says:

    Williamson County (home of Stuart, Casada, and Bill Lee) is a RINO ghetto. Enjoy your property tax INCREASE, boys. Will the extra revenue be spent on vaccinating children or CRT consulting?

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    Mike says:

    Bill boy Lee is dam joke