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Tourism agency: European flights to energize Mississippi market

By JACK WEATHERLY

British Airways and Condor Airlines will start offering nonstop flights from London and Germany to New Orleans.

Visit Mississippi, the state tourism agency, expects that 30 to 40 percent of an estimated 76,000 Euro visitors will take in Mississippi.

Agency Director Craig Ray calls it a “game changer” for the state.

Mississippi and the city of Memphis have worked together for two decades to promoted the region to international travelers, primarily from the United Kingdom and Germany, Ray said.

But when Northwest Airlines ended its service out of Memphis in 2010, following its merger with Delta Air Lines, the international service to New Orleans stopped, Ray said.

British Airways and Condor start service in March and May, respectively.

“Our marketing reps in Europe have been working on this since it was announced with both airlines to promote destination travel.

“I really feel that it will be a game changer for tourism,” he said.

“It will move the needle. We’re talking millions of dollars.”

“Most states in the South, with the exception of Florida, usually will get an international traveler after they’ve been to the United States three or four times,” visiting Florida, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas.

“Now that the flights are coming, it takes one big step out of the way.”

Visit Mississippi is working on marketing with the airlines and Louis Armstrong International Airport, Ray said.

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