During two weeks in late June, dancers, instructors, and spectators from around the world will visit the state’s capital city for the International Ballet Competition, bringing their dollars and opinions of Mississippi with them. From a tourism aspect, it’s hoped these visitors will depart with fewer dollars in their pockets and heightened positive thoughts of Mississippi.
“It’s an incredible image booster,” said Malcolm White, director of state tourism for the Mississippi Development Authority. “We’re one of four places in the world hosting this event so that gives us a conversation we don’t normally have; it puts us on an international stage. It’s one of the most significant events we ever have and that helps us improve our image.”
The Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau reports that more than 45,500 attendees were at the International Ballet Competition in 2010, the last year it was held in Jackson. The estimated economic impact that year was $4.5 million. “Wow! It is a major event for the city and definitely puts the city in a positive light on a very big stage. Dancers from around the globe make a goal to get to Jackson, Miss., to propel their careers,” said Yolanda Clay-Moore, public relations manager for the Jackson CVB.
White says the competition is very much a high-profile part of the state’s push for a creative economy and comes during the Year of the Creative Economy as proclaimed by Gov. Phil Bryant. “This event affects the work force, the local economy and tourism like a big movie production company coming to town,” he said. “The IBC visitors are at the top of the list for money spent, and their average stay is three times the average stay of other tourists, which is two and a half days.”
The IBC has all things tourism officials crave, White points out — global reach, long average stay, and affluent visitors. “The thing about it I love so much is that it’s such a global event,” he said. “I learned when I was at the Mississippi Arts Commission that dance is hard to promote. It’s wonderful for us to get this competition with its infusion of dancers. It’s just a phenomenal event that also encourages dance programs at schools, colleges and small dance groups.”