Tourism bureau budgets for new Tupelo events

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau board has approved a nearly $3.4 million budget that includes funding for several new activities in Tupelo.
Capital projects for fiscal year 2012 include a $100,000 donation to the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation for the birthplace’s expansion project and $15,000 for events associated with the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death.
The CVB also has budgeted $25,000 for “Rootfest.”
Neal McCoy, the CVB’s executive director, said he envisions Rootfest as a regional alternative to South by Southwest, a festival in Austin that has gained notoriety for its music, film and interactive technology events.
“We started Blue Suede Cruise out of this office,” McCoy said. “It’s a similar idea of starting a festival and passing it on to a group that can grow it.”
The idea is in its infancy. McCoy doesn’t know where or when it would happen, but thinks late March might be a good time. And the name is still up in the air.
“Rootfest is only a project name we’ve given it,” he said. “It will not be called that.”
The budget also includes $5,000 for lobby exhibits and $7,500 to start an industry awards banquet for Tupelo. McCoy said the banquet would work with area associations to name the person of the year in the hotel and restaurant industries, among others.
Plus, the budget provides $3,000 to develop a training program for front-line hospitality workers in Tupelo to help them better promote Tupelo.
The CVB also makes a $1 million payment every year to pay off the BancorpSouth Arena bond.
Plus, it has budgeted $103,000 to pay for its recent building renovation.
The budget is primarily funded from revenues from a 2 percent tax on hotels, motels and restaurants in Tupelo. About $64,000 comes from interest on savings and from the North Mississippi Medical Center in lieu of the tax.
The CVB’s budget is awaiting approval from the City Council, which must approve a budget for the city by Sept. 15.
carlie.kollath@journalinc.com