Memphis leaders hopeful exposure from NBC’s ‘Bluff City Law’ will boost city’s already booming tourism industry

Updated: Sep. 30, 2019 at 6:15 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tourism officials in Memphis are betting big on the success of NBC’s “Bluff City Law.” In a city that already sees millions of tourists annually, the hope is the show will bring even more.

On Memphis’ iconic Beale Street, Francis Borowski knows what usually draws tourists to town.

“You think of Memphis, you think of Elvis, you think of the blues,” said Borowski.

Hailing from the Windy Cindy, Borowski’s heard and seen the new buzz over NBC’s “Bluff City Law.” It’s buzz that may make Memphis’ star on the map even brighter.

“It is truly about bringing the world to Memphis. And being able to see what it is that Memphis has to offer. And that’s just, there’s no way to measure that. There really isn’t,” said Valerie Morris with Morris Marketing Group.

Tourism in Memphis and Shelby County is already big business, from Graceland and Sun Studio to the National Civil Rights Museum. In 2018, 11.8 million visitors doled out $3.5 billion in direct spending here.

“You’ve got to realize millions of people watching this weekly is a commercial for our city. It will attract tourism to the community. It will bring people to our city,” said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Tourism.

Before NBC announced plans for “Bluff City Law,” downtown Memphis was already seeing a renaissance with construction to update the convention center and developers adding more hotel rooms.

Downtown Memphis currently has an inventory of roughly 4,000 hotel rooms, according to Memphis Tourism officials. Two thousand additional rooms are in the planning or construction phase and expected to come online in the next two years.

“It is very difficult for us to compete with other cities like New Orleans and Atlanta and for us to get this it is just absolutely wonderful. It is the pie in the sky for Memphis,” said Gale Jones Carson, chairwoman of the Board of the Memphis Shelby County Film and Television Commission.

Jones Carson’s group was instrumental in ensuring that NBC Universal filmed the first season of “Bluff City Law” on location in Memphis. Carson said the series should elevate the city’s profile.

“It’s really a good series. The acting is good. The story line is good,” she said.

Back on Beale, even visitors like Borowski believe “Bluff City Law” will convince more people to see what makes Memphis tick. That means planning a trip to the place we call home.

“Any time a show is based in a city, that city is going to get an increase in tourism,” he said.

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