Memphis tourism officials looking to make up pandemic losses in coming months

Memphis tourism officials looking to make up pandemic losses in coming months

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis tourism officials say the city fared OK this summer. Although still well below last year, hotel occupancies were at more than 50 percent this summer, and officials are starting to see similar numbers going into the fall.

Tourism officials are saying Memphis did well compared to other cities in the region. They hope a $2 million advertising campaign that helped bring people here this summer will continue the momentum into the fall and winter seasons.

“We still have a long way to get back to where we were,” said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Tourism.

But Kane is looking at the positives after the summer travel season. Memphis hotel occupancy was in the top three in the region, and it looks like centrally-located Memphis was a prime spot for the summer of the road trip.

“We came down to Conway, Arkansas for my son’s wedding and we’re on our way back up and since we had time we stopped in Memphis in the way back,” said tourist Roseann Hearn .

“We’re spending $2 million in a 600-mile radius just to promote Memphis as a great place for a getaway,” said Kane. “Leisure travel is the only market really traveling right now.”

That campaign will continue until the end of the year. Kane said a promising move to help bring visitors to Memphis in the fall is relaxing social distance restrictions for Tigers football games.

There’s also a push across the region to get people in Memphis to eat as some restaurant owners fear the colder temps may keep diners home.

“We want to get some good BBQ,” said tourist Heather Lafrenie.

Kane said downtown has been the slowest to bounce back. He hopes the new convention center opening at the end of the year will have a good effect on Memphis travel in the first quarter of 2021.

“It’s a day-by-day basis on that, but we’re optimistic that business will come back sooner rather than later,” said Kane.

Most of the conventions booked at the center this year have been canceled. Kane said those booked for early next year are still holding on.

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