Kevin Kane

Experience Memphis with Kevin Kane; President and CEO of the Memphis CVB

Travel and Tourism Week is every week in Memphis!

Memphis Personalities at Party in the Park

Did you know last week was National Travel and Tourism Week?

Established by a congressional resolution in 1983, this week of events serves to champion the power of the travel industry. The travel community marks the event in a number of creative ways, from staging local rallies and conducting media outreach to securing proclamations and resolutions from local governments.

Here in town, The Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau held our fourth annual Party in the Park celebration in Court Square on May 9. It was a celebration of all things Memphis, but also a chance for us to show the economic impact travel and tourism has on our city.

Did you know tourism brings 11.5 million visitors a year to our city? It’s also responsible for more than 35,000 jobs in tourism and hospitality in Memphis and Shelby County. It all adds up to account for $3.2 billion annual visitor expenditures.

Pretty impressive, huh?

This year’s theme was “The Faces of Travel”. In my opinion, everyone who engages with tourists and visitors is a face of travel because everyone has something positive and unique to add to our ever-evolving narrative. We all have the opportunity to be ambassadors of the bluff city. Let’s face it… our city is ground zero for so many cool things and continues to innovate today.

If you’d like to learn more about how travel and tourism affects our city, please read this wonderful cover story from the Memphis Flyer.

On behalf of all of us at the Memphis Convention & Visitors Center, thanks for all that you do to make Memphis a highly sought after destination and experience. Until next time, don’t forget to join us for MemTalks coming up on June 22.



Memphis CVB to open office down under

Great news friends, Memphis is AUSome! I’m proud to announce that the Memphis CVB is opening an office in Australia, our third strongest international market. As the official marketing and tourism organization for Memphis and Shelby County, we saw this as a great opportunity for our city.  And the timing couldn’t be any better.

Chris Ingram, formerly of Tourism Australia, will lead the sales and marketing efforts in Australia and New Zealand on behalf of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. We look forward to his leadership and expertise.

Australia and New Zealand were identified as emerging feeder markets to Memphis several years ago and now rank as the third strongest international countries visiting Memphis today. Visitors appreciate the authentic experience that only Memphis can provide. Based on research and feedback from CVB clients, international visitors are in search of “REAL” American experiences. Memphis is a one-of-a-kind vacation destination that offers visitors from around the world the experience they are looking for.

In 2015, 1.5 million Australian travelers visited the US. This amounts to more than ten percent of all long-haul travel by Australians outside Oceania according to research conducted by the US Travel Association. The average international visitor typically stays 14-17 nights in the US and travels to multiple destinations. The typical international visitor to Memphis stays 3-4 nights and spends more on leisure travel during their visit than most domestic visitors. In 2015, spending from this market reached $9.3 billion with a 3-5% growth expected by 2018.

The MCVB has always recognized the importance of international visitation to Memphis. Representation and partnerships have existed for Memphis tourism in Europe for 25 years resulting in Memphis as one of the premier and most visited destinations in the Southern US. Marketing efforts supported by MCVB also exist in Japan and China which represent smaller visitation for now but are important as new demand generators in the future. The top international markets to Memphis for leisure travel are: Canada, UK, Australia/New Zealand and Germany.


2016 was filled with big moments, new amenities and exciting openings

From the grand opening of the Guesthouse at Graceland to the relaunch of the Heart of the Park at Shelby Farms to the celebration of Big River Crossing, 2016 was a banner year for Memphis. Not to mention the opening of the Hotel Napoleon, as well as several other announcements for more lodging options in 2017.

While Memphis has a pace all its own, I have to say i’m impressed by its gusto and growth in 2016. Just look at what’s on the horizon…. Crosstown Concourse, the Old Dominick Distillery, Elvis Presley’s Memphis and much more!

Sometimes its easy to forget how special our city is, but I’m here to assure you that for those who don’t call Memphis home, they absolutely love it! And that’s visitors, business travelers, tourists and journalists. This year alone our PR staff hosted more than 50 outlets from around the world and landed more than 230 stories with a circulation of more than 58 million and unique page views upwards of 1.7 billion. Our convention sales & services team also continues to impress by landing several new and exciting conferences and meetings.

Once the Convention Center’s renovations are complete, the sky will be the limit for recruiting new business. A large part of the renovation will be improving the spaces within the building to be more in line with what is expected in 21st Century convention facilities. It would be understatedment to say the future is bright.

In other news, has gotten a facelift. The new site has a more modern look and feel. It’s also much more user-friendly and allows for user generated content to help inspire and guide visitors, meeting planners, tour operators and media on why they should choose Memphis.

This time of year we all tend to look back on the year that was… the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly. As a city and destination I couldn’t be more proud of all that was accomplished. And in a way, we are only getting started!

Happy New Year and cheers to a bright 2017!

Happy Thanksgiving – a short list to what we at the CVB are thankful for this year…

1. We are thankful Elvis called Memphis home. Without the King, our travel and tourism game wouldn’t be what it is today. We are already so pleased with the opening of the Guesthouse at Graceland and come early March, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, a state-of-the-art entertainment complex will open and bring in tens of thousands more visitors.

2. We are thankful for all of our attractions and hotels. You help shape the Memphis story. From the historic, like the Peabody and the Civil Rights Museum to the new and shiny, such as the Napoleon Hotel and Big River Crossing, we are blessed to be able to showcase the authenticity of Memphis to the world.

3. We are thankful for our members. By being a part of our tight network of like-minded businesses, you help support the tourism industry and aid in bringing greater economic benefit to Memphis & the Shelby County region. Thanks for being a part of the team!

4. We are thankful for our MemVOCATES…. Memphis advocates who keep their meetings local. Keeping meetings local and bringing larger national meetings to the city supports the entire community. Our goal is to empower locals, especially those with a lot of civic pride, to be a greater source for bringing an organization’s event to Memphis, whether it be a large convention or a small meeting or event. We appreciate you!

5. We are thankful to those who share and contribute to the stories coming out of Memphis! Year-to-date, we have hosted more than 50 media outlets that have yielded 235 stories with a circulation of 58,000,000 and unique page views close to 2 billion! Memphis is happening!

When it comes to holiday travel, Memphis is a great destination for regional visitors

Every season in Memphis is special, but for our regional markets, Memphis has emerged as a great destination to visit during the holiday season. From shopping to sporting events, family-friendly activities to our outdoor offerings and mild temperatures, the river city offers a great venue to experience the holidays.

While we don’t break down economic impact by season, we know that people love to shop and eat here. Not to mention our hotel occupancy across the city is also up. With the upcoming opening of Ikea and the strengths of our other malls and shopping districts, I fully expect another successful holiday season in Memphis. You can also find many boutique and unique shops all over town.

And let’s be honest, no one decorates their city better than us. The atmosphere we create around town is unparalleled and is sure to put all comers in the holiday spirit. No one welcomes visitors like we do.

For those traveling to or living in Memphis this holiday season, here’s a short list of must-do’s…

1. Experience the Peabody. Whether it’s the music, glowing lights or tall Christmas trees, the Peabody is a great place to start your holiday tour.

2. Lights, lights and more lights… Starry Nights at Shelby Farms — If you are traveling with children, this wonderland of lights on the grounds of our largest urban park is incredible. Don’t forget to stop by Santa’s workshop. Zoo Lights — another wonderful tradition. I love seeing the singing Christmas trees and decorated animal exhibits. You can also take a few laps on the ice rink. Graceland Lighting Ceremony – Elvis’ traditional Christmas lights will be officially turned on, and will remain on display through Elvis Birthday Celebration 2017. The lighting ceremony includes a visit from Santa and more.

3. Liberty Bowl – This game has great history and energy as it fits two regional teams against each other. Representatives with the Liberty Bowl estimate fans will spend $23-25 million in Memphis. This year’s game is Dec. 30.

4. New Years Eve on Beale Street — Watch the guitar drop on historic Beale Street. Music, great food and thousands of folks gather for this annual tradition.

5. Elvis Presley’s Birthday Celebration — January 5-8 is a great time to come experience the birthday of the king! And you can see the Christmas lights on the grounds of Graceland.

Clearly there are countless other things to do and see in Memphis during the holidays as there are countless things to do and see in Memphis all the time. I hope to see you in Memphis this holiday season!

Happy Holidays!

Kevin Kane

*photo of Memphis Zoo by Allen Gillespie 






While numbers may ebb and flow, business is good…

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett recently announced Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time high of $18.4 billion in 2015, up 3.7 percent over the previous year, as reported by the US Travel Association.

Sounds like business is good, right? Shelby County alone exceeded $1 billion in travel expenditures. But, it’s important to understand travel trends to understand the deeper story.

For 2016, our numbers have been strong through June with citywide occupancy up 2% and citywide attraction attendance up as well. National trends are showing a softening in the last half of the year, but we do not anticipate a dramatic down turn.

This article from Travel Weekly spells it out quite nicely.

Fall, now officially here, has already brought us strong events like the Southern Heritage Classic and the completion of Heart of the Park at Shelby Farms. Then in just a few short weeks, Big River Crossing and Guest House at Graceland will open, giving our hotels, attractions and restaurants a nice leap into the sports season. September and October tend to be good for meetings and conventions as well. In my opinion, business is good and getting better all the time.

And there’s more…

I’m also looking forward to the renovations to our convention center. Trust me, we are working diligently to bring more conferences and meetings to all parts of the city.

My point is… while numbers may ebb and flow, there’s alway something on the horizon to bolster the number of visitors enjoying our restaurants, music venues, attractions and more!

Memphis International Airport Added to the Global Entry Program

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will open a new Global Entry Enrollment Center at Memphis International Airport (MEM) on September 14, 2016 at 8 am. The enrollment center will be located between the B and C ticketing lobbies.

Conditionally-approved Global Entry applicants can now register for an interview with a CBP officer at the Memphis location on the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) website. Global Entry, a CBP Trusted Traveler Program, allows for expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

“We are thrilled to add this sought-after amenity,” said Scott Brockman, President and CEO of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority.  “For local international travelers, it’s a huge benefit to be able to complete the Global Entry enrollment process right here at MEM instead of traveling to another city.”

The Global Entry Enrollment Center will initially operate on weekdays from 8 am until 4 pm but will eventually expand its operations to include weekends. The office will be closed on federal holidays. The CBP officers will only interview applicants with appointments.

Applicants must possess a machine-readable U.S. passport or a machine-readable permanent resident card, pay a non-refundable $100 application fee, undergo a background investigation with fingerprint check, and complete an in-person interview with a CBP officer at one of the more than 90 Trusted Traveler enrollment centers. Global Entry membership is good for five years.

Currently available at 49 U.S. airports and 13 Preclearance locations, Global Entry streamlines the screening process at airports for trusted travelers. Global Entry members bypass the traditional CBP inspection lines and use an automated kiosk to complete their admission to the United States. Global Entry members are also eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening program.

More information about Global Entry can be found on the CBP website.

National Park Service Celebrates It’s 100th Birthday with #FindYourPark

In honor of its centennial birthday approaching this month, the National Park Service (NPS) is inviting people across the country to #FindYourPark.

The NPS has been in charge of caring for the United States’ national parks since 1916, and each year, they welcome over 275 million visitors to the 412 national parks across the country.

In honor of the anniversary, the NPS will be hosting events across the country throughout the month, and from August 25 to August 28, they will be offering free admission to all the parks.


In Tennessee alone, we have twelve national parks and a total of 15 sites associated with or managed by the NPS:

  • Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  • Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
  • Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
  • Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
  • Fort Donelson National Battlefield
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Manhattan Project National Historic Park
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Obed Wild and Scenic River
  • Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
  • Shiloh National Military Park
  • Stones River National Battlefield
  • Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area
  • Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

If you’re in Memphis like I am, I would suggest Shiloh National Military Park. Located in Shiloh, Tennessee near Pickwick Lake, it’s only a two-hour drive to the park from the city.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis encourages everyone to join them in August to celebrate our country’s amazing national parks. In a press release, Jarvis said:

“We like to think that we look pretty good for 100, and with so many events and activities to commemorate this milestone, we hope all Americans will join us to celebrate the breathtaking landscapes and inspiring history in our nation’s parks and public lands. Whether it is in a distant state or in your own community, there are hundreds of ways and places to find your park.”

In addition to the hundreds of events they will be hosting, you can visit their new website as part of the #FindYourPark promotion. With the hashtag #FindYourPark, the NPS is encouraging park visitors across the country to share their park experiences and stories across social media.

They’re also holding a Centennial Summer Sweepstakes where you can enter to win a 6-day trip to the Grand Canyon National Park.

Even with a century under their belt, the NPS has shown a consistently growing number of visitors. In January of this year, the NPS announced that more than 305 million people visited national parks in 2015, which is more than the record-breaking number from the previous year.

As the head of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, I promote and advocate for anything positive that supports, grows, and benefits the tourism and travel industry in the United States. The U.S. NPS does all these things and more.

A study shows that in 2015, visitors to the parks in the NPS spent an estimated $16.9 billion in local gateway regions, which are areas within roughly 50 miles of the park, supported 295,300 jobs, and output $32 billion into the national economy.

In Tennessee parks alone, park visitors spent $608.5 million in 2015.

This directly affects so many sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry, as the money was spent on gas and transportation, hotels and accommodations, food, shopping, and additional recreational activities.

All in all, there is just no doubt that the national parks are economic, historical, and natural benefits to our travel and tourism industry and economy as a whole.

That’s why I encourage you in joining the NPS and myself in finding your park to celebrate their 100th birthday in August.

You can take a look at all the events they will be hosting next month here.

Memphis To Host 63rd Annual World Series of Drag Racing

On August 26 and 27, Memphis, for the first time, will host the 63rd Annual World Series of Drag Racing.

The race will be held at our very own Memphis International Raceway (MIR) in Millington.

I had the honor of speaking to Clay Millican, NHRA racer from Drummonds, TN, who will be competing in the tournament next month.

Watch the clip here:

We expect there to be quite a positive economic impact in result of the tourism draw, with drag racing fans from all over convening in Memphis to watch the event.


This is just another thing that gives us an advantage over other destinations in the country!

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