Destination Knoxville

Laura Bower Local Living, Tourism 13 Comments

“I’m excited to live in a more transparent world.” – Kim Bumpas

A West Tennessee native, Kim Bumpas came east to Knoxville 22 years ago and never looked back. She was drawn to the mountains, the climate and the casual, laid-back campus at The University of Tennessee. Now president of Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation in the aftermath of the Gloria Ray debacle, Bumpas is philosophical about the future of her adopted city and the direction of Knoxville’s de facto destination marketing organization.

“Forget the acronym,” Bumpas said. “Whether it’s KTSC or something else, we have to get past the drama of the last 10-15 weeks and get together as a community to define the leisure marketing initiative.”

Bumpas zeroed in on three points she believes are critical to Knoxville’s success in tourism: transparency, community involvement and education of what destination marketing is and can be. “Do all that, and Knoxville will be unstoppable,” she added.

Unstoppable describes Kim Bumpas as well. Honest, direct, unorthodox – she’s all these things and more. She’s also passionate about Knoxville. Since her predecessor stepped down amid a firestorm of controversy about contract provisions and compensation, Bumpas has been the voice of reason and the guiding hand of KTSC.

“Sometimes something bad has to happen to get to the good,” said Bumpas.

Flash back two decades to her first foray into tourism & lodging – there was no hospitality major at UT “back in the day” pointed out Bumpas. But that didn’t hinder this persistent student from getting hands-on operations experience in the hotel business, working her way from the front desk up to manager of the Holiday Inn at Cedar Bluff while completing her marketing degree at UT. Next came a sales position at the Downtown Holiday Inn and then a five-year stint with Hyatt Regency. The Hyatt job led to a position at Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau under the tutelage of mentor Mike Carrier. That was 11 months prior to the CVB’s “aggressive merger” with the Sports Corporation folks.

Fast forward ten years – a lot has changed. A decade ago, tourism marketing was all about groups. Market Square had not yet undergone its renaissance. There was no “walk out of hotel” experience for visitors. Bumpas credits Scott Schimmel, co-owner of Bliss and Bliss Home, John Craig, president of the Market Square District Association and Biscuitfest visionary, and Governor Bill Haslam, two-term mayor of Knoxville, with morphing Market Square and downtown into a unique destination with crossover appeal for leisure travelers as well as groups.

Now our beloved Scruffy Little City is sitting pretty, poised for breakout success as a leisure and group tourism destination.

Meanwhile, Knox County’s Audit Review Committee has completed its analysis of KTSC’s financials commissioned by Mayor Tim Burchett. Pugh and Company will present the findings on May 22 at 9 a.m., in a public meeting at the City County Building. Bumpas said she welcomes the opportunity for openness and community dialogue. She’s about building consensus and moving forward.

Bumpas is currently overseeing the imminent separation of KTSC and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, operated by Sports Management, Inc. This strategic uncoupling is part of KTSC’s efforts to define its purpose and chart its course under her leadership.

“I like to sleep good at night, so I try to make decisions that don’t keep me up,” said Bumpas. “I really care what people think. I care about Knoxville. That’s why I do what I do.”

Comments 13

    1. Guest

      “I like to sleep good at night.”

      I would like to have anyone who wants to be the face of Knoxville to be able — as a minimum qualification — to speak proper English, lest we continue to perpetuate the “scruffy” myth.

  1. JustSayin...

    The results of the ongoing audit of KTSC should be carefully examined before anyone even considers whether Bumpas might have the opportunity to continue her interim role on a more permanent basis.  It seems pretty clear from a lot of the reporting that KNS & others did that there has at least been a culture of pervasive fudging of the numbers at KTSC, if not much worse. I find it hard to believe that Gloria Ray & David Duncan would have been able to do that without the knowledge & complicity of other senior management at KTSC, including Bumpas.  Even if it was only “looking the other way,” while not be as culpable as actually facilitating or participating in Ray & Duncan’s apparent misdeeds, that is a reasonable basis to disqualify anyone from the organization being tapped to lead it going forward, including Bumpas.

    1. Crissconcern

      Hey JustSain…

      Go back to KNS and you will see that Gloria and David went to great links to keep things secret from everyone…..why would you think employees would help? Doesn’t make sense to me…

      1. Susanhami

        Wasn’t it Kim Bumpas and her sales team that put together and took credit for all the sales and visitor numbers that allowed GRay to make her obscene bonus numbers? For example, that large, high-spending group who came for the Remote Area Medical care…and isn’t this the same Kim Bumpas who loved making prank calls to hotels on Fridays and initiated hallway water gun fights? Do a little digging instead of blind acceptance so we dont get back into the same mess we were in with GRay.

      2. JustSayin...

        Maybe you should re-read the coverage.  The secrets were pretty obviously just kept from the Board, the media & the public … not senior level KTSC staff who would have actually had to do all the grunt work of fudging the numbers.  Gloria probably doesn’t even know what an Excel spreadsheet is so you know she didn’t actually do it herself.  She just orchestrated it all for her great personal benefit.

  2. Storminnorman1118

    The numbers that were posted that lead to Gloria’s and Kim bumpas’s bonuses came directly and exclusively from Kim Bumpas.  This is the great unknown truth that needs to be verified by the media, but can be easily.  The end result was that Kim Bumpas lined her pockets at the expense of promoting Greater knoxville.  Also, it would be more than worthwhile to investigate recent staff that have resigned from KTSC, particularly any one that worked on Kim Bumpas’s sales staff.  Some of the stories are graphic and not for the faint of heart or for any one under the age of 18.  Unethical, unprofessional, dishonest and disgusting are mild terms to describe her behavior.  The sooner KTSC’s board gets rid of her the better off all of greater Knoxville will be.

  3. knoxy9168

    As a former employee, I can tell you that Kim Bumpas IS the problem. In order for the city and company to move on, she needs to leave. KTSC needs a new leader with honesty, integrity and common decency. And by the way, I left on my own free will. As have SEVERAL in the past year or so.

  4. knoxy9168

    by the way, Kim isn’t the new president. She’s the INTERIM president and still the Senior VP of Sales and Marketing.

  5. Guest

    There needs to be a clarification in regards to my previous comments.  The sales #’s that Bumpas provided were trumped up, with her taking credit for sales $’s that were not directly or indirectly related to activities of KTSC.  In other words she falsified and provided incorrect #’s to the board for purposes of paying her additional bonus.  An additional word to add to a description of her ongoing behavior is “abusive”, she makes abusive comments and threats as a part of normal every day communication.  KTSC is a fine organization, doing much for the community and with the right person at the helm, will continue to be a positive and essential part of our community, just not with Bumpas in the organization!!!!

  6. Crissconcern

    You all are funny because you are very uninformed. If you knew Bumpas, you would know how wrong you are. Gloria was bad and misused information and you are blaming the employees. When the audit is revealed…let them be the judge and everyone else judge themselves……

    1. knoxy9168

      I do know you, Kim. That’s why we’re all correct. The only KTSC employee that is to blame is you. 

      I can tell you’re commenting on your own story by the …… you put in your sentences.By the way, uninformed isn’t a word.

  7. BradHill

    PR defined. No mention of the Board ignorance or incompetence. It’s one or the other….or both. And almost the very same foxes are still in-charge of this $4 million+ per year, tax-funded henhouse. I thought our newest Mayor would address this quickly, but one of the foxes in in her midst too. As we’ve seen recently, it takes an indictment for elected officials to really talk about oversight, transparency, and real accountability. Just talk about it.

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