By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – For the first time, the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau is proposing a budget of more than $3 million for Fiscal Year 2015.
The budget of $3,075,530 is $274,500 more than this year’s budget, a 9.8 percent increase.
The proposed budget emerged from the CVB’s recent board retreat.
“Each year that the CVB has been in operation, we have continually seen an increase in our collections,” said CVB Executive Director Neal McCoy. “Therefore, we have continued to increase our budget while maintaining a fiscally sound reserve fund to serve as a safety net in tough economic times or in times of disaster when we need to help steer the conversation and impressions of Tupelo.”
Some projects from last year aren’t on next year’s budget, including $40,000 for cultural heritage markers, $75,000 for a branding study and $100,000 for the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation.
For the upcoming fiscal year, the CVB is pumping an additional $175,000 to paid media and $25,000 in travel.
The increase in travel is for additional public relations and networking trips tied to Elvis Presley’s 80th birthday, as well as trips to new trade shows targeting the leisure market (bridal shows, military base shows and consumer shows).
“Paid media saw an increase because of a transfer of money from the Sports line item, additional advertising buys because of Elvis’ 80th birthday, and it is a strategy to continue to increase that line item based on research and our 10-year strategic plan,” McCoy said.
An $80,000 capital outlay increase for FY2015 is for a new shuttle bus.
The funding of a wayfaring/wayfinding program to direct and better inform visitors of the area’s attractions is a $200,000 budget.
“I think the biggest theme out of the retreat is the start of an active sales program in the leisure market – in the past we had only done that through advertising – the funding of a wayfaring/wayfinding program and the celebration of Elvis’ 80th birthday throughout 2015,” McCoy said.
The annual Mississippi Picnic in New York next year will center around Presley’s 80th birthday, and the CVB will be an active participant leading up to and during the event.
The CVB has set aside $40,000 for the Mississippi Picnic and another unannounced event. Funds also will be used for production and promotion of a three-day event that is planned in January in Tupelo marking Presley’s birthday.