Longtime Tupelo tourism director to retire June 30

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Members of the region’s tourism industry were full of best wishes Monday for Linda Johnson, who officially announced her retirement as executive director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Johnson, 62, has led the city’s tourism efforts for the past 13 and a half years. She previously was at the Jackson, Tenn., CVB for 15 years.
At the Tupelo CVB’s monthly meeting on Monday, she told board members she will retire June 30.
“This will be the opportune time for someone else to lead the bureau to greater heights,” she said in her letter to the board.
The CVB board is responsible for finding a new director, and the candidate must be approved by the City Council. Johnson, chairman of the board, said she will not participate in the selection process.
The board will look at in-house candidates first and then will widen the search within the city if needed, Johnson said.
In making her decision to retire, she cited her desire to spend more time with her family and to work on personal goals.
The announcement comes a month after Johnson was inducted into the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Hall of Fame by Mary Beth Wilkerson, MDA’s director of tourism.
After Monday’s announcement, Wilkerson was quick to offer her praise for Johnson.
“She has provided exceptional direction and innovative marketing opportunities for the Tupelo CVB in promoting tourism,” Wilkerson said. “Linda is also a true champion for the entire Mississippi tourism industry.”
Throughout the years, she has served on countless tourism boards and committees. Until last week, Johnson served as president of the Natchez Trace Compact, the public marketing group she helped found for the Natchez Trace Parkway. She currently is vice chairman of the Tupelo Coliseum Commission.
She also is president of Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance board, a group that helps promote cultural and heritage tourism throughout Northeast Mississippi.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.