Visit Knoxville looks toward the future

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – There is a lot of pen marks on Kim Bumpas (president of Visit Knoxville) 2020 calendar. It’s excessive ink not indicative of events she and her team have successfully pulled off, instead indicative of the cancellations the Covid-19 pandemic had forced.

“I mean it’s been hurtful a lot lately because we’ve had to clear our whole calendar as it relates to the operational aspect of what we do.”

This weekend, USA Cycling was set to crown a new National Champion on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. Like many things, Covid-19 canceled that event. Bumpas now looks at the near-perfect weather that’s expected in Knoxville this weekend similar to the way she looks at pictures that are resurfacing from the 2019 event: with a bit of sadness.

And while Visit Knoxville would prefer to have the cyclists in town this weekend, they were able to create a silver lining out of the lost event.

“The exciting thing is we’re going to have them back in 2021 and 2022 now. And so we’re really excited about next year and what that looks like.”

The USA Cycling National Championship one of dozens of events that were scheduled to take place between early march and now (late June) that Visit Knoxville was forced to postpone or cancel. But Bumpas and her team were able to reschedule over fifty of those events to take place in Knoxville in 2021.

“It’s a huge shout out to Knoxville and all of our tourism stakeholders that every single event and meeting and sporting event wanted to come back,” she said.

Pushing events back a year entails more than just penning it in on the 2021 Calendar.

“There’s a lot a lot of shifting, of venue spaces and hotels,” she explained. “Sometimes it works out great, sometimes we have to say wait okay you can come back here in 2022 vs 2021. We’ve spent a lot of time doing that.”

Visit Knoxville does have about twenty events left on the calendar for 2020. Bumpas acknowledged the first of which – which could happen as early as August 1st if Visit Knoxville is given the green light – will feel different.

“We’re excited to do events, that’s what we do but we’ve never hosted events during a global pandemic,” Bumpas said.

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