Travel South USA targets Canada as it looks to grow visitor spending

International tourism arrivals to the U.S. southeast region of America have now surpassed visitor numbers posted in pre-pandemic 2019, reaching 105 per cent of those totals as of October this year.

That news was part of a keynote presentation at the Travel South USA International Showcase this week in Memphis, Tennessee, reports Press Today’s Ted Davis, who’s attending the event.

Kicking off the conference and trade market was Travel South USA chairman Mike Mangeot, who told delegates that this pandemic recovery rate was well ahead of the nation as a whole, which is averaging about 76 per cent of 2019 international visitors. Mangeot is also the Kentucky commissioner of tourism.

He made his presentation to 450 tourism product sellers, international product buyers and travel media in attendance.

The product sellers hailed from the 12 states that make up the Travel South USA collective, including Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The 450 invited delegates that descended on Memphis for the event topped the 400 that turned out for last year’s International Showcase in Louisville, Kentucky.

The contingent of international tourism product buyers hailed from 17 countries.

“The South is a hot destination now,” said Mangeot, reflecting on the fact that the region is increasingly recognized for offering a very authentic, welcoming tourism experience.

A target of US$10 billion in international tourism spending for the region is achievable by 2026, said the chairman. “This can be done if we just add one more day to each visit to reach that goal,” he said.

This is especially applicable to Canada, the number one source market for international visitors to the region. “It’s so easy for Canadians to get here,” he said, noting that the 12 states of the U.S. southeast can be easily traversed and experienced once they arrive.

Travel South USA has been operating since 1965. The three-day International Showcase ends this week. It was preceded by a series of fam trips by buyers and media to a selection of states in the region.

In the photo

Mike Mangeot, chairman of Travel South USA, joined Liz Bittner, president of Travel South USA, during the organization’s annual International Showcase trade mart and conference this week. (Photo by Ted Davis)