The tourism industry was hit hard during the global pandemic. The 2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism has a plan to bring back tourism in our state.
Travel all over the world has reduced due to safety measures during the global pandemic. The tourism industry has been in the eye of the storm, but Mississippi has a plan to get people to travel to see our five diverse regions. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said, “We must do everything in our power to protect the lives of Mississippians, but also understand that not only must we protect the lives of Mississippians, we must also protect the livelihoods of our fellow Mississippians.”
In-state travel has been on the rise since the pandemic and Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray says the tourism industry is now focusing on rebranding Mississippi and is counting on a tourism boom in 2021. “We are in the middle of hiring a new ad agency. We’re looking to rebrand the state of Mississippi, come out with some new commercials. So, new digital ads, billboard ads, a complete blitz of marketing campaign to be hopefully timed just right for coming out of the pandemic with the vaccinations in place.”
Visitors in Mississippi spent an estimated 6.7 billion in 2019, a 2.9 percent increase over 2018 numbers. As visitor spending increased, so did the overall number of visitors. In 2019, Mississippi hosted 24.7 million visitors who helped to support more than 122,000 jobs. “The best way to have population growth is to convince people to come here and see what all the fuss is about.”
The Mississippi Aquarium was awarded travel attraction of the year. ‘Coastal Mississippi’ won the award for best social media presence and the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission won the tourism investment award.
Safety comes first and the tourism industry is highlighting events and destinations where everyone can feel safe to travel. “We want to send a message to our industry that when it’s safe and when you can or feel up to it, that travel is important and know there’s a lot of backed up demand for people wanting to travel, but that’s our job to lead appropriately and safely.”