Inspiring the 'Future of Travel,' Summit Looks Past COVID

May 10, 2022

Erik Evjen gestures toward a projection of graphs on a screen
Erik Evjen, Director of Data Analytics and Insights for Tourism Economics

Visit Jackson hosted its second-ever tourism conference on May 4, 2022, inclusive of surrounding cities Ridgeland, Canton and Vicksburg, dubbed the Capital Area Tourism Summit, aiming to inspire the 'future of travel.'

Following US Travel Association's theme for National Travel and Tourism Week - celebrated May 1-7 - the conference welcomed guest speakers who informed and educated local hospitality stakeholders. The event also hosted an opening and closing reception at Jackson partner locations.

The opening session, sponsored by Advance Travel, welcomed Erik Evjen, Director of Data Analytics and Insights for Tourism Economics. Evjen presented data analysis & visualization, sales strategy, and research methods and trends that would inform post-pandemic strategy.

Karin Aaron of KKD Tourism Advisors spoke as part of a breakout session to help evaluate the area's sports product and suggest ways to bolster the attractiveness of hosting an event in the Jackson area.

Visit Jackson President and CEO Dr. Rickey Thigpen served as moderator for a panel titled 'Perception vs. Reality,' examining how public safety impacts visitor and local opinions of the area and suggesting strategies to face the challenge head-on.

The luncheon, sponsored by MWB, welcomed guest speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, whose humor and wit entertained and inspired.

Afternoon sessions focused on workforce development and brain drain in a panel with speakers David Pharr and Justice Gibbs, II, moderated by Tim Mask.

Mississippi Tourism Association Board President and Executive Director of Visit Hattiesburg, Marlo Dorsey, led an inspiring session focused on how Mississippi tourism claimed the number one spot in tourism recovery during COVID-19.

Thigpen returned to close the conference by speaking on opportunities as the pandemic entered an endemic phase. "Our industry and its people are resilient and have made great strides in adapting to the circumstances. While business travel is recovering at a slower pace, the good news is that the domestic and leisure travel sectors are making a significant return to 2019 numbers. We can maintain our momentum and competitive environment by working and staying together."