Mississippi Tourism Association Governor’s Conference honors state’s tourism industry

Biloxi, Miss. – The Mississippi Tourism Association recognized the impact and accomplishments of the state’s tourism industry at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism held at the IP Casino Resort and Spa in Biloxi, Miss. on Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 2020.

This annual educational and professional development event brought together more than 120 tourism industry professionals from across the state as well as tourism partners from the surrounding region.

The awards program gives MTA the opportunity to recognize the best of the best from their 200+-member organization.  Awards were presented in 15 categories, each focusing on a different aspect of the hospitality industry or individual achievement.

“Not only does the Governor’s Conference on Tourism allow us to recognize our outstanding peers, it also provides the opportunity for advancement in education, so we, as professionals, can continue to expand our impact in the state,” said Kelli Davis, 2020-2021 president of MTA.  “As the fourth largest industry in Mississippi, we are key contributors to our state’s economy, and we only want to continue that growth.  Those we honored at this conference are certainly helping us to achieve that goal.”

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.

During the conference, the following were honored for their dedication, creativity, impact in the industry and individual award criteria:

The award winners for 2020 were as follows:

1.  Destination Marketing Organization of the Year (DMO) of the Year – $0 – $499,000
Visit Greenwood

2.  Destination Marketing Organization of the Year (DMO) – $500,000 to $999,000
Visit Columbus

3.  Destination Marketing Organization of the Year (DMO) – over $1 million
Visit Jackson

4.  Travel Attraction of the Year
Mississippi Aquarium

5.  Small Festival/Event of the Year
Taco Hop – Starkville Main Street Association

6.  Large Festival/Event of the Year
Tupelo New Year’s Eve Party – Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau

7.  Community Volunteer of the Year
  Mr. Hezekiah Watkins

8.  MTA Member of the Year
Marlo Dorsey – Visit Hattiesburg

9.  Social Media Campaign of the Year
City With Soul/My City/Visit Jackson

10.  Best Social Media Overall Strategy
My City/Visit Jackson

11.  Best Social Media Presence
 Coastal Mississippi

12.  Governmental Tourism Leadership Award
Mayor Robyn Tannehill – Oxford, Mississippi

13.  Tourism Investment Award
The Gulfport Redevelopment Commission

14.  Tourism Promotion of the Year
Tupelo’s New Years Even Party – Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau

15.  Travel Media Award
Kristin Luna

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