By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi Tourism Director Malcolm White hailed the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Tourism Leadership Program, which graduated its second class Tuesday.
“I’ve seen ambassador programs elsewhere, but this is so much more,” he said. “It’s tourism driven. … there’s a lot of information that’s passed around and shared, helping to build the community.”
The class of 13, representing individuals in the hospitality industry, finished a five-part program spread over five months, covering the history and economic development of Tupelo, how to work with the CVB, social media, customer service and public relations. The participants, who applied for the program in October, also visited all of the city’s attractions.
The program is designed to give participants a greater understanding of the CVB’s inner workings so they can better engage visitors.
White said Tupelo’s was a program that should be replicated statewide to help boost an already strong industry.
“Tourism is an incredible engine for job creation,” he said, noting that last year tourism spending generated $6 billion in the state. More than 83,000 people also are employed in the tourism and travel industry in Mississippi.
“That’s real business, that’s real economic development.”
Among the graduates was Bev Crossen, the director of marketing at The Farmhouse in Tupelo and event coordinator of the Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel.
She also received the Lynn Davis Scholarship, which pays for two years at the Southeast Tourism Society’s Marketing College.
THE SECOND CLASS of the Tourism Leadership Program included Chanda Cossitt, Tommy Morgan Realtors; Ty Robinson, Robinson and Associates; Shari Neely, Hilton Garden Inn; Faith Melville, Quality Inn; Camille Reed Sloan, Reed’s; Lucia Randle Harrison, Reed’s; Virginia
Chambers, His Hers; Steven Lyles, Fairpark Grill; Beverly Crossen, The Farmhouse/Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel; Jessica Reed, Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association; Cindy Childs, The Mall at Barnes Crossing; Amy Kennedy, Tupelo Parks and Recreation; and Romanda Fears, Hampton Inn & Suites.