3Qs: Neal McCoy, Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal

Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, last week announced plans for the new Heritage Enrichment Trail project.
He spoke to Daily Journal business reporter Sarah Robinson to provide additional details about the multi-year project.

Q. HOW EXACTLY will the Heritage Enrichment Trail work?
A. THE HERITAGE ENRICHMENT TRAIL will identify, mark, interpret and promote the people, places and events that were significant to the history and culture that formed Tupelo as we know it today.
The trails will cover lots of areas and will require driving from point to point to see the entire trail system.
However, there will be some areas that will be able to be toured as a pedestrian. As we mark sites, we will deliver the tours in a digital format through the “Let’s Go To Tupelo” app and through our websites. As we have a significant number of sites marked, we will put together other products including printed maps and audio tours.

Q. WHO IS YOUR target market?
A. WE ARE LOOKING to attract the cultural heritage tourist with the creation of these trails. Studies have shown that cultural heritage tourism is one of the fastest growing niche markets in the travel industry.

Q. HOW IS THIS project unique?
A. THIS IS BELIEVED to be the first comprehensive trail program created by a city in Mississippi to interpret and tell the history of their community through a trail program designed to engage and extend the stay of visitors.
Because of our history with our area being the homeland of the Chickasaw Nation, the battles that took place here during the Civil War and then the struggles of segregation that are well documented in Mississippi, this region has a rich cultural history that a lot of the areas of the United States do not have. A substantial amount of markers are planned to be installed before the end of 2013, but this will be an ongoing program that we will develop for a number of years.
The CVB expects to spend about $100,000 on the project and will maintain the trail through its annual budget.

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