‘Visit Oxford’ adopts new focus

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – With a new tourism headquarters and a new brand, the Oxford Tourism Council adopted a new strategic plan Wednesday to guide its outreach efforts.

Building on a year-long study, two overarching goals are to “acknowledge the impact of travel on the local economy and the opportunity to grow” and to “drive increased visitation during slow periods.”

To accomplish those, the council has already restructured – separating tourism promotion from conference center and historic homes operation – and relocating its new “Visit Oxford” offices to downtown.

“I was amazed at how much has been accomplished,” said council member Lisa Martin.

Tourism Director Mary-Kathryn Herrington said her 10-week absence hardly slowed progress.

“My staff has hit the ground running this summer,” she said.

One future initiative is to get an ad agency’s help to develop the “Visit Oxford” brand. Plans are in place to increase advertising and social media presence, do ongoing research and tracking of visitor responses and develop closer relationships with the University of Mississippi, whose events drive much of the city’s tourism. (A new www.visitoxfordms.com is expected to go live on Friday.)

The new mission statement says, “We market and sell Oxford as a destination for travelers for the economic benefit of Oxford.” The strategic plan also identifies Visit Oxford’s “product” as “the wide range of leisure, cultural, historic and recreational activities that the LOU community has to offer” including shopping, fine dining, SEC sports, historic homes and fine arts.

Council member Nicole Boyd was enthusiastic about the new strategic plan.

“I thought it was excellent – thoroughly detailed,” she told Herrington. “I think you got a great roadmap.”

Outgoing council chair Katie Morrison said it will help focus the efforts of both staff and council members.

“We can revisit it and keep our minds on the big picture,” she said.

errol.castens@journalinc.com