Jason Shelton

JASON SHELTON

Each year, as Mayor of Tupelo, I deliver a State of the city speech highlighting a variety of important issues including economic development, infrastructure, budgets, housing, public safety and quality of life. The purpose is to share our successes and what we hope to accomplish in the future. It is a great way to connect our citizens with their local government. The State of the City speech will be delivered to the Council at Tupelo City Hall on March 3 at 6 p.m. In the days following this speech, I will go to each of our 7 Wards to deliver the message.

There are so many great things happening within each department of the city, and it would be impossible to share everything within the State of the City address. Therefore, over the next several weeks I will be featuring a different department of the city and its accomplishments. I will start with telling you about the work and successes of Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Tupelo CVB finished 2019 with a 13% increase in tourism tax collections. This was the largest increase in the last 25 years. Through its efforts, the bureau was named Destination Marketing Organization of the Year by the Mississippi Tourism Association.

Tupelo CVB Sports continued to recruit both traditional and non-traditional sporting events to Tupelo’s superior facilities in 2019. A total of 52 events were held, with 19,238 athletes participating, and an economic impact of $3,328,110. These events included the USA Synchronized Swimming Masters Championship which brought participants from 13 states and Japan. The Tupelo Pickleball Championship was honored with the Southern Public Relations Federation William A. Taylor Best of Show award, and Brian Rucker, sports sales manger for Tupelo CVB, was named the 2019 Southeast Tourism Society Rising Star.

Twenty meetings and conventions were hosted including the Mississippi Municipal League Small Town Conference, welcoming over 400 attendees. 2019 events had an economic impact of $742,815. We anticipate an increase of hosting larger meetings and conventions in the future with the expansion of the BancorpSouth Conference Center.

The city continues to sell itself on a global scale through strategic partnerships. Tupelo CVB hosted 85 international tour operators through FAM tours and individual visits. International visitors from 25 different countries visited the Elvis Presley Birthplace and the Tupelo Visitors Center.

Through its aggressive public relations strategy, Tupelo CVB is telling Tupelo’s story to media locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. In 2019, they focused on the city’s unique culinary culture and Tupelo was featured in 41 articles with 177,057,234 impressions. Tupelo CVB was honored with multiple awards from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and the Southern Public Relations Federation.

Continually looking to trends and targeting markets, MyTupelo social media accounts saw an overall 9% increase in followers. Instagram, the fastest growing social media site, saw the most growth with a 19% increase in followers.

Tupelo CVB completed a full renovation the its Visitors Center in 2018 into an interactive “destination within a destination” and saw a 47% increase in traffic through the facility. The CVB staff was invited to share information on the process of creating a visitors center plan to the Southeast Tourism Society. The presentation was well-received and resulted in an invitation to make the presentation to the State of West Virginia at their Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

To start the new decade, Tupelo CVB collaborated with other departments to kick off Tupelo’s 150th Birthday and first New Year’s Eve event, bringing record crowds to Downtown Tupelo to ring in the new decade.

Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau continues to be a shining star with enormous economic impact on our city. 2020 promises to be another great year for Tupelo’s tourism. Thank you to Neal McCoy and his stellar staff for their vision and excellent work in promoting “My Tupelo” as a great place to visit.

JASON SHELTON is the mayor of Tupelo. Readers can contact him at jason.shelton@tupeloms.gov

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