By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
Tourism-related activities in 2012 exceeded $74.8 million in the city, according to the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
According to CVB Executive Director Neal McCoy, the economic impact figure is based on survey results plugged into a formula created by the Mississippi Development Authority.
The CVB’s annual report also showed that tourism was responsible for more than $15.3 million in capital investments in the city and that visits to area attractions exceeded 287,000.
Tombigbee State Park led the way with 50,828 visits.
The Natchez Trace Visitors Center reported 47,868 guests and the Elvis Presley Birthplace saw 36,623 visitors.
In another effort to boost the city’s image, the CVB in mid-April quickly unveiled a new marketing program in response to negative publicity received by the city in light of recent events picked up by national media.
The “My Tupelo” campaign was launched to record and broadcast on video Tupelo residents sharing what they love most about the city.
More than 35 videos have been recorded and are being shared now on social media sites.
The CVB is working to compile the ads into commercials that will air on the agency’s website and on television in Jackson, Meridian and other North Mississippi tourism markets.
The CVB has greatly increased its online and social media presence over the past year on sites like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
The CVB “My Tupelo” Facebook page recently reached 100,000 likes. The agency reported its website has had more than 273,128 hits in 2012, a 19 percent increase over 2011.
McCoy said he is proud of the progress the CVB has made so far on reaching goals it set for 2013. The establishment of the heritage trails program was among those goals, and officials will unveil its second marker on Friday to commemorate the Civil War Battle of King’s Creek.
Another major effort to create a tourism product development fund is under way.
According to McCoy, the fund would support “bricks-and-mortar projects that will attract guests to Tupelo.”
McCoy said the agency is not currently on target to meet its goal of increasing tourism tax collection by 3 percent over 2012 levels, but he believes there is still time to make that happen.