City With Soul Celebrates National Travel & Tourism Week

May 21, 2024

Rickey Thigpen NTTW press conference

The City With Soul celebrated the 41st annual National Travel & Tourism Week today in downtown Jackson at Smith Park. The honorable Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, was present for the event.

Visit Jackson took on two themes, Travel is Essential and Outdoor Adventure, Visit Mississippi's theme this year.

Visit Jackson's Director of External Affairs, Partnerships and Alliances, Yolanda Clay-Moore, welcomed the attendees and celebrated those in the industry who faithfully devote their time and talents to the tourism and hospitality industry, touting their efforts to keep the City With Soul strong and vibrant.

Visit Jackson President & CEO Dr. Rickey Thigpen flaunted that Mississippi's capital city welcomed 9.8 million visitors that yielded $0.9 billion in expenditures, a 4.5% increase from last year, and that 8,700 people in Hinds County were employed in the Leisure & Hospitality Industry, earning $45.7 million in taxable income.

He also shared the uptick in international travelers,, sporting and religious events. He cited two pieces of business Visit Jackson has secured: Destinations International 2025 Inclusion/Business Operation Summit with 300 attendees, over 500 overnight rooms, and $317,743.68 in estimated economic impact; and the 2024 USA Track & Field Olympic Southern Regional with 2300 attendees, over 700 room nights and $2.279 million in estimated economic impact.

"Travel & tourism is the heart of the American economy and is essential to our nation's vitality and continued growth," said Dr. Thigpen. "We are essential! As an industry, we continue to recover from a global pandemic; now our negative media stories regarding water, infrastructure issues, and public safety considerations are used as a case study establishing destination best practices because of our resiliency and recovery."

The honorable Mayor, Chokwe Lumumba, praised the Visit Jackson team for accepting his 52-week tourism strategy to grow opportunities and generate more revenue in the city. This strategy benefits the people who live in and create this city every day. Mayor Lumumba also issued a proclamation in Jackson claiming May 19 – 25 as National Travel & Tourism Week.

"When I welcome people into the city, I invite them to go to our amazing restaurants, the Two Mississippi Museums, and I tell them about the great hospitality of the people of Jackson, and I say that I hope that you love our city so much that you'll grow roots and you'll want to stay, but even if you don't, please just leave your money."

David Pharr spoke about the inception of the Museum Trail, which started with a conversation in 2009 in the parking lot at the Chamber of Commerce, emphasizing quality of life and economic development. They were familiar with multi-use trails in other cities but unfamiliar with how powerful they have become. The Museum Trail team researched other trails, including the Longleaf Trace in Hattiesburg, and the power of a trail soon became evident by their log of visitors from 100 countries in Longleaf's second year of being open.

"After researching other trails, tourism became a strong value that we were trying to pursue," said Pharr. "Research also showed an increase in exercise, so where the trail goes, people get healthier. University studies have also proven that people pay an average of $9,000 more for properties within a mile of a trail."