Anniversary of Elvis’ death boosts tourism in his hometown

TUPELO, Mississippi (AP) — The birthplace and museum of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi, has seen growing numbers of visitors as fans commemorate the 45th anniversary of Presley’s death and a new movie awakens the international interest in the singer.

Roy Turner was appointed executive director of Birthplace last fall following the retirement of longtime executive Dick Guyton.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Newspaper reported that Turner’s biggest challenge is getting visitors back to Tupelo’s top attraction amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Place of birth has seen more visitors this year than the last two.

“It really picked up on April Fool’s Day with steady increases, and then when the movie came out, it really picked up again,” he said.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann Movie “Elvis” was a worldwide success. With international tourists typically accounting for 60% of Birthplace visitors, the movie about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll couldn’t have come at a better time.

It was only last November that a busload of visitors became the first group of international tourists to the site since January 2020.

“They come from all over the world,” Turner said.

He said about 20 people from Belgium visited the birthplace on August 9, spending most of the day there. Around 35 bus tours were expected in just over two weeks. Turner said those numbers are approaching pre-COVID levels.

Before the pandemic, the Berceau welcomed around 60,000 visitors a year.

Presley died on August 16, 1977, at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, approximately 151 miles from his birthplace. Turner said birthplace tourism typically increases “in five-year increments” beginning on the anniversary of death.

Turner said he was happy to see more visitors, including younger ones.

“We’ve seen a lot of young people take an interest in Elvis,” he said. “Another interesting thing is that there are also more African-American visitors, because the movie says more about Elvis’ connection to the African-American community.”

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