Foreign visitors to Memphis have been a rarity for much of the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Memphis Tourism has not slowed down the city’s progress around the world, with international representatives located all over the world, including Australia, Japan and the UK.
Central to the efforts of international representatives is the marketing of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, which has been attracting foreign visitors to Memphis for the past four decades. Memphis Tourism CEO Kevin Kane said the organization has kept international representatives on board throughout the pandemic.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions on visitors have been eased both locally and internationally, Kane believes the city is in a better position to reap the rewards of its work during the pandemic.
“Many cities have put this on hold (international marketing efforts) … we haven’t,” Kane told The Commercial Appeal. “We continued to promote and represent Memphis in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK and Europe during COVID… even though we knew no one could come here. So it’s not that we’re trying to start something, we’ve never stopped on the path of promoting Memphis to our international audience.”
Memphis Tourism is hoping that the new Elvis film directed by Baz Luhrmann can build on the recent momentum and increase international travel to the city.
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About 278,000 foreign tourists visited Memphis in 2019, with major markets of origin including Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany and Japan, according to Oxford Economics. The projected economic impact from international visitors to Memphis in 2019 was $109.8 million. This was the most recent data provided by Memphis Tourism for the last full pre-pandemic year.
“We’re so excited about this Elvis movie that we think it’s going to be a billboard for people who want to come to Memphis and experience Graceland for themselves,” Kane said in a previous interview.
New Elvis movie to boost international tourism in Memphis
The Elvis movie is a biopic of the Memphis icon and cost Warner Bros. about $150 million in production and sales ahead of the June 24 opening in North America. The film is expected to become a summer blockbuster.
Memphis Tourism’s film marketing includes a new slogan “Watch the film, live the heritage” developed by Memphis Tourism to connect the dots between film-built recreations of the film in Australia at Beale Street, Graceland and other destinations with their local sources of inspiration.
Most of Memphis Tourism’s international representatives dedicate a certain amount of time each month to promoting Memphis. There is one Memphis Tourism staff member based in Australia/New Zealand which is another promotional tool for the non-profit organization because…