NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Kevin Triplett will join his cabinet as commissioner of the Department of Tourist Development.

Triplett, 49, is vice president of public affairs for Bristol Motor Speedway. Prior to joining BMS in 2005, he worked in various roles for NASCAR, ultimately serving as managing director of business operations, guiding the operation and administration of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, and Camping World Truck Series. He has twice been named one of NASCAR’s “25 Most Influential” by The Charlotte Observer.

“Tourism is one of our state’s largest industries, providing $16.7 billion in direct economic impact, and Kevin brings a lot of energy and passion to the industry with decades of experience pulling together different stakeholders and constituencies,” Haslam said. “I appreciate his willingness to serve, and I look forward to working with him to continue building on Tennessee’s globally-recognized brand.” 

“We are very excited about this announcement,” says Kim Bumpas, President of Visit Knoxville, who serves on the Governor’s Tennessee Tourism Committee. “Kevin knows the value and economic impact of tourism in Tennessee and will be a great addition to the state’s tourism team.  We look forward to working together under his leadership.”

“The destinations, arts and entertainment, history and beauty from Mountain City to Memphis is incredible. The wealth of knowledge that exists in the tourism industry throughout the state is a gold mine, and it is a privilege to work with those folks. I am honored Governor Haslam has given me this opportunity and thank Commissioner Whitaker for the path she has paved the last 12 years. I look forward to getting to work,” Triplett said. 

From 1992 until 1994, Triplett represented General Motors Parts (GM Goodwrench and AC Delco) in NASCAR, specifically Richard Childress Racing and Ken Schrader Racing and their drivers, including Dale Earnhardt. Prior to his NASCAR tenure, he covered sports for the Bristol Herald Courier and The Gaston Gazette in North Carolina.

He is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and has served on the boards of a number of community organizations including Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Bristol Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rotary Club of Bristol, ETSU at Bristol Advisory Council, Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Also a farmer, Triplett is a member of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association.

Triplett and his wife, Jill, live in Bristol with their two children, Lucas and Sarah Grace.

He replaces Susan Whitaker who announced her departure in December. His first day on the job will be April 23.

As part of Tuesday’s announcement, Haslam also named Sande Weiss, president of Music Road Resort in Pigeon Forge, co-chair of the Tennessee Tourism Committee. Weiss fills the role previously held by Dolly Parton Productions President Ted Miller.

The tourism committee, established by Haslam in 2011, is chaired by Colin Reed, CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties (formerly Gaylord Entertainment Company), and co-chaired by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. CEO Jack Soden.

“Sande has been a valuable member of the committee, and I know she will continue to be a great asset as co-chair,” Haslam said. “I’m grateful that she, Colin, Jack and the other members of the committee from across the state are willing to share their talents and expertise as we continue to expand Tennessee’s tourism potential and attract even more visitors to our state.”

“We are so fortunate to have a governor that understands the value of tourism and the economic impact it has on Tennessee,” Weiss said. “With three distinctive regions, each having so much to offer visitors, it can be a challenge to market such a diverse state. The committee has brought together tourism leaders from across Tennessee, and working with the Department of Tourist Development we have created a strong strategic plan that is sure to increase visitation. I look forward to being a part of our future success.”

Tourism is one of Tennessee’s largest industries with a $16.7 billion direct economic impact in 2013, a 3.4 percent increase over 2012. State and local tax collections reached a new high of $1.28 billion for tourism related businesses in 2013, which is the eighth consecutive year above $1 billion.