MEMPHIS – Worldwide guests to Memphis had been a rarity for a lot of the previous two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even so, Memphis Tourism didn’t decelerate its worldwide promotion of town with worldwide representatives stationed all through the world together with Australia, Japan, and the UK.
Central to the worldwide representatives’ efforts is advertising and marketing Elvis Presley’s Graceland, which has attracted worldwide guests to Memphis for the previous 4 many years. Memphis Tourism CEO Kevin Kane stated the group stored the worldwide representatives onboard all through the pandemic.
Now, with COVID-19 restrictions loosened each domestically and internationally for guests, Kane believes town is in a primary place to reap the rewards of its work through the pandemic.
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“Quite a lot of cities suspended that (worldwide advertising and marketing efforts) … we didn’t,” Kane advised The Business Attraction, a part of the USA TODAY Community. “We stored selling and representing Memphis in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK, and Europe throughout COVID … although we knew that nobody was capable of journey right here. So it isn’t a query of us, , attempting to get one thing began, we by no means stopped so far as selling Memphis to our worldwide audiences.”
Memphis Tourism is hoping the brand new “Elvis” film directed by Baz Luhrmann can construct on the latest momentum and work to extend worldwide journey to town.
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An estimated 278,000 worldwide vacationers visited Memphis in 2019, based on Oxford Economics, with the most important origin markets together with Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, and Japan. The projected financial influence of Memphis worldwide guests in 2019 was $109.8 million. That was the newest knowledge supplied by Memphis Tourism, the final full pre-pandemic yr.
“We’re so enthusiastic about this ‘Elvis’ film, we predict it will likely be a billboard for folks to need to come to Memphis and to expertise Graceland for themselves,” Kane stated in a earlier interview.
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New ‘Elvis’ film a lift for worldwide tourism in Memphis
The “Elvis” film is a biopic of the Memphis icon and price Warner Bros. an estimated $150 million to make and market forward of its June 24 North America opening. The film is predicted to be a summer season blockbuster.
Memphis Tourism’s advertising and marketing of the film features a new slogan – “See the Movie, Stay the Legacy” – developed by Memphis Tourism to attach the dots between the film’s Australia-built recreations of Beale Road, Graceland and different locations to their native inspirations.
Most Memphis Tourism worldwide representatives dedicate a sure period of time every month to selling Memphis. There may be one full-time Memphis Tourism worker who’s in Australia/New Zealand, which is one other promotional device for the nonprofit as a result of the “Elvis” film was filmed in Australia.
A devoted film web site web page additionally gives a information to Lauderdale Courts (Elvis’ childhood Memphis house), Humes Excessive Faculty (Elvis’ alma mater), and different landmarks in his Memphis life.
“Clearly Graceland and Elvis is a giant hook for us outdoors the US,” Kane stated. “I imply, let’s face it. Memphis and Elvis are synonymous, and it resonates very strongly by all of our analysis around the globe … It is (the brand new film) simply actually a promotion for Memphis and type of places Memphis in entrance and heart in folks’s minds.”
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Greater than 60 print, broadcast, and digital media writers and personalities from the U.S. and such international locations as Brazil, Taiwan, Canada, and Mexico had been in Memphis the weekend of June 11 for an advance screening of the movie and promotional occasion at Graceland. The occasion – designed to unfold the phrase in regards to the film, but additionally put a highlight on Memphis – included appearances by the film’s stars Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, amongst others.
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Bringing worldwide guests again to Graceland, Memphis
Joel Weinshanker, a managing associate of Graceland Holdings and majority proprietor of Elvis Presley Enterprises, stated in a earlier interview he hopes Graceland’s worldwide customer figures will rebound this yr.
The web site generates a neighborhood financial influence of about $150 million yearly, based on Graceland. Together with its direct financial influence on Memphis, the attraction can be credited with establishing Memphis as a global vacationer vacation spot.
The Whitehaven vacationer web site is the second most-visited “museum house” within the U.S., based on Graceland. The primary is the White Home.
In a traditional yr, worldwide guests symbolize about 15% of Graceland’s 600,000 estimated annual guests, Weinshanker stated.
“Once we have a look at our numbers, we’re creeping again very near pre-COVID ranges for American guests,” Weinshanker stated. “The place we’re nonetheless missing is the worldwide (guests) and what we’re seeing particularly for Elvis Week (in August) are the internationals beginning to come again. For Memphis to thrive from a tourism standpoint and for Graceland to thrive, we’d like these worldwide company.”
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Whereas Graceland could also be the primary worldwide tourism draw, Memphis’ notable points of interest transcend music together with the Nationwide Civil Rights Museum Downtown.
Nationwide Civil Rights Museum President Russell T. Wigginton in a earlier interview with The Business Attraction recalled a memorable anecdote in March with a dozen folks from numerous international locations ready outdoors for the constructing to open one morning. Wigginton later declared it “worldwide day” on the museum.
“It was a neat second and type of a reminder that we draw folks to this metropolis,” he stated. “We’re an financial driver for this metropolis, and it’s simply not regional. It’s not simply nationwide. It’s worldwide.”
Memphis Worldwide Airport visitors will increase in 2022
Kane’s optimism is mirrored in elevated visitors at Memphis Worldwide Airport from 2021 to 2022, based on knowledge shared by airport spokesperson Glen Thomas.
Whereas the airport does not have knowledge on worldwide vacationers, figures present an uptick in general passenger journey in Memphis.
In Could, greater than 233,000 folks handed by the TSA safety checkpoint, which represents a 22.7% improve in comparison with Could 2021, based on airport knowledge, and solely a slight 4.9% lower in comparison with Could 2019 previous to the pandemic. The TSA nationwide throughput is down by 10.1% in comparison with Could 2019, which implies Memphis is outpacing the nationwide common, Thomas stated. The TSA nationwide throughput is the variety of passengers touring by the U.S. in a given time interval.
The proportion of seats stuffed on an plane has steadily elevated within the first quarter of 2022, from 69.6% in January to 86.2% in April.
“In brief, extra individuals are touring, and the planes are full,” Thomas stated. “We are able to solely anticipate that to extend, because the above visitors occurred earlier than the peak of summer season journey coupled with the easing of worldwide journey restrictions.”
Reporter John Beifuss contributed to this story.
Omer Yusuf covers the Ford venture in Haywood County, residential actual property, tourism, and banking for The Business Attraction. He could be reached by way of e-mail at [email protected] or adopted on Twitter @OmerAYusuf.
This text initially appeared on Memphis Business Attraction: How ‘Elvis’ film can deliver worldwide vacationers to Memphis