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I-40 bridge closure causing concern for the tourism industry

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 7:17 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With one of the main arteries into the Bluff City shut down, concern is growing in the Memphis tourism industry.

“You know, it could have an impact, so we’re very concerned about it,” said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Tourism.

As long as the I-40 bridge remains shut down, it will continue to cause logistical nightmares for shipping companies.

Kane says it could also impact tourism in the Bluff City. “It will also be a challenge because we have so many visitors that come from Illinois, they come from Arkansas, they come from Texas, Oklahoma, and they come over in that direction,” Kane said.

Kane says the thing that makes Memphis such an attractive vacation destination is that it’s within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the county and data shows many people come from West of the Mississippi River.

“In 2019, pre-pandemic, three million, three million of our visitors came over from Arkansas,” Kane said

With a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Kane says tourism is starting to pick back up.

He hopes the I-40 bridge closure does not deter visitors. “We’re 10 percent higher than the national average in hotel occupancies,” Kane said

Kane also said as of now, the closure is not having an impact on Memphis businesses.

WMC talked with people at two downtown hot spots, Arcade and Rendezvous, who say they’re not seeing impacts as of now.

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