State's tourism plan is to cash in on overseas travelers

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Updated: 5/07/2013 8:18 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - State and local tourism leaders were in Tupelo on Tuesday to discuss a number of topics.

"Mississippi is a funky and cool place, and when people come here, they get it and they're always astounded by all of the things they didn't expect," said Malcolm White, Mississippi director of tourism.

He talked to a crowd of people who share a keen interest in tourism to lure more foreign travelers.

"We're beginning to focus on our international travelers. We have a great product for the international travelers all the way from our great natural resources to our cultural pieces to music and the arts," White said.

Tourism leaders are confident that last year's mark of 21.3 million visitors will grow because the economy is showing signs of stabilization.

"The UK and Germany they have a lot of outbound travelers. Their economy seems to be doing pretty well so their citizens are getting out and travelling. So, we are seeing some of those international travelers come and when they come they stay in the states for about three weeks. So, that's our opportunity to capture them," said Executive Director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitor's Bureau Neal McCoy.

New residents to Mississippi say the state lacks big money attractions such as theme parks, but there are a number of educational and family oriented destinations. 

"There's not a lot of high end dollar attractions around here. But, you can go to the birthplace of Elvis Presley and just spend a few bucks and get to enjoy family time with your family," said Roxcee Coble. 

"Very few places can you go where you sit on the porch steps of the birthplace of Elvis Presley or stand at the crossraods of the Blues at Highway 61 and 49 and see where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to play the guitar like no one else before. Those are authentic and real experiences that visitors get in Mississippi," McCoy added.

Last year, travelers to the Magnolia State spent over $6 billion and that in turn supported over 83,000 direct travel and tourism jobs.
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