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May 08,  2017   -   The Guardian  /  Elvis Express Radio
Officially, National Travel & Tourism Week runs May 7 through May 13. But Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, got a jump on things this
past week.

Kane presided over an event Wednesday, May 3, at the Old Dominick Distillery on Front Street. It was an opportunity for media and other invited guests to tour the new Downtown
facility, but also a chance for Kane to remind that tourism is an economic driver for the community.

“This is going on all over the country as the U.S. celebrates travelers and tourism,” Kane said. “Tourism in Memphis and Shelby County is a $3.2 billion industry. We attract more
than 11 million visitors a year. And we always like to say that Memphis in May kicks off our summer season.”

Beale Street Music Fest, Kane said, is worth about $39 million to the local economy. Memphis in May is about an $88 million impact and Kane said the city would draw some 35,000
people for the music festival and that’s just the out-of-towners. Tickets were sold to people from all 50 states and more than a half-dozen countries.

As National Travel & Tourism Week ramps up, there will be a celebration at Court Square on Tuesday, May 9, around lunch time and more than 100 hospitality industry members
will be involved.

“It’s monumental what’s happened in this industry,” Kane said. “If you look at the foundations of travel and tourism – Graceland, what’s happened on Elvis Presley Boulevard with
the new Guest House at Graceland and Elvis Presley’s Memphis experience.

That’s a total transformation and is the anchor of tourism and hospitality for Memphis and Shelby County. They average somewhere between 600,000 and 650,000 visitors from all
over the world annually. Their goal with all these enhancements is to get that number closer to a million annually.

“Think about the impact that will have the entire Memphis economy because they visit our other area attractions and amenities in the city. It just magnifies itself over and over again
and takes our industry to another level.”

This includes jobs, with there being about 35,000 tourism industry jobs in Memphis and Shelby County. The industry also generates about $158 million in local and state taxes.
Twenty years ago, Kane said, Memphis only drew about six or seven million annual visitors. Go back father, to the 1980s when Graceland opened, and the landscape was very

“I can’t tell you how happy we are to not be where we were 30 years ago, which was one of the only things to do in town,” said Jack Soden, president and CEO of Elvis Presley
Enterprises Inc.

The $92 million, 450-room Guest House at Graceland resort hotel was only possible, Soden added, because the Memphis tourism market has grown so much in recent years.
“We’re all in this together,” he said. “And that’s what’s neat about the tourism business. We don’t compete with one another. It’s like a rising tide (lifting) all boats.”