By NEMS Daily Journal
The imminent opening of three new hotels in Tupelo answers what tourism and convention bureau officials say is a need for accommodations near food, shopping and entertainment, especially for families like the ones filling the city for athletic tournaments several times a year.
Already these summer youth sports tournaments have filled the city to overflowing, with some participants booking rooms in nearby towns because none were available in Tupelo.
The opening in coming days of The Hampton Inn and Suites, the Fairfield Inn and Suites and a Best Western Inn and Suites hotel, all near the Barnes Crossing commercial district, will raise Tupelo’s hotel capacity to almost 2,000 rooms. Even that number will be challenged to hold all the people expected for tournaments and other events during peak weeks and weekends.
The sports-driven tourism, of course, is added to regular hotel traffic that has helped support other relatively new properties like the Comfort Suites on North Gloster, and the Hilton Garden Inn, Tupelo’s first downtown hotel in more than 40 years.
Hotel investors research the market before committing millions in new construction, and where hotels grow in multiples there’s usually data backing up the decisions.
The new properties in the Barnes Crossing area reflect what’s happened in many other cities: hotels build near high-density trade, entertainment, shopping and food.
Seth Gaines, the sports development director with the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said families hauling kids to tournaments want easy access to food and entertainment – the activities that keep young athletes occupied when they’re not on a playing field.
The CVB calculates that every team brings 20 to 25 people.
Tupelo long ago enacted a tourism tax – a 2 percent levy on hotel rooms and restaurant meals and beverages. That income sustains CVB development work, helps pay off bonded debt on some facilities, and in part supports other events.
Overflowing hotels sustain claims by promoters of athletic competition and entertainment that the city’s investment – and private-sector investment as well – pay off when the right events are planned and marketed to targeted consumers.
In the case of hotels, successfully attracting large sporting events and having the right mix of rooms and entertainment will help draw additional events to Tupelo, too.
Every big concert brings fans, every convention attracts delegates and participants, and the result means business at virtually every level, producing a positive impact.
Tupelo isn’t an Orlando or a sunny beach destination, but there are plenty of people who will come here to hear favorite singers and compete in what’s important in their lives.