By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo has had success in tourism but it needs to focus on nighttime entertainment, according to a report unveiled Monday.
The Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau more than a year ago commissioned Berkeley Young of North Carolina-based Young Strategies to do a comprehensive destination research report and tourism market analysis. He presented his findings Monday at the CVB’s monthly board meeting.
Young studied Tupelo’s lodging industry, its CVB, its visitors and its meetings.
“The research confirms that you’ve been on the right track,” he told the board. “Everything you’ve done so far has been really smart. You have the right plans in place.”
He highlighted downtown, the North Gloster shopping district and Elvis-related activities as good efforts.
But, the constant negative in his surveys was the lack of evening events in Tupelo.
“Your biggest problem – y’all pull up the streets at 6 o’clock,” he said.
The lack of evening activities – or the lack of awareness of them – is costing Tupelo money, he said. Visitors don’t prolong their stay in town. In general, overnight travelers spend about twice as much as a daytrip traveler.
Group tour planners said they’d like to see a live theater, a working farm tour or a nighttime entertainment district.
Nighttime entertainment, Young said, doesn’t have to be wild parties and alcohol-fueled craziness. He suggested posting a weekly calendar at hotels of musicians who are playing in restaurants each night. Other suggestions include Sunday night concerts on the lawn, live music jams on Tuesday nights, outdoor movies or a drive-in movie tied in with the Tupelo Automobile Museum.
He also recommended that Tupelo isolates a brand and sticks with it. He suggested combining the Elvis brand with Tupelo’s small town feel and pushing a mid-century Americana image.
“You want people to tour Tupelo to see the birthplace of the King and to see legendary fun,” he said. “Right now, it is more educational and not fun. You are not legendary fun right now. You need to get there.”
Young will present his findings to the City Council today at a work session. He’ll present them again Wednesday to tourism stakeholders. To RSVP for the sessions Wednesday, call (662) 841-6521.