Collaborative Capital Area Tourism Association Announced

May 4, 2021

Five people pose with a giant check
Rickey Thigpen, Chris Chapman, Senator John Horhn, Representative Deborah Gibbs and Jana Dear

The power of travel has birthed a collaboration in central Mississippi, forming the Capital Area Tourism Association (CATA).

Announced this week during a National Travel & Tourism press conference held in Jackson, CATA, an innovative industry partnership, will join the tourism efforts of Visit Ridgeland, Canton Tourism and Visit Jackson.

The group’s mission is a commitment to collaborative initiatives that aim to increase visitor numbers, build recognition of local attractions and amenities and offer educational programs intended to build the local hospitality industry workforce.

“One of the most significant lessons learned (in the past year) is what happens when we all work together,” said Rickey Thigpen, President and CEO of Visit Jackson. “A rising tide lifts all ships and the Capital Area Tourism Association will be able to bring more business to our capital area.”

Thigpen believes the collaboration will fill more hotel rooms, more restaurant seats, more attractions, trade shows and flea markets, festivals and sporting events and will better position the region as a regional and national competitive destination.

“The time is here and now in the capital area for promoting tourism through our unique cultural, historical and outdoor assets,” Visit Ridgeland President and CEO, Chris Chapman said. “We all work together for the same goal and it’s wonderful to be able to put all of our talents and our minds together for the purpose of tourism.”

Canton Tourism Executive Director Jana Dear, who was celebrating her 14th year in the industry at the announcement, said, “Tourism is fun, tourism is exciting, and it’s the positive side of life. After the last year we’ve all had, we all need this.”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who issued a proclamation for National Travel & Tourism Week, deferred the reading of the “whereas and therefores” and pomp that comes with it. Instead, he, too, echoed the words of those who spoke before him.

“I believe we are better positioned going forward,” Mayor Lumumba said. “We are developing a collective strategy in how tourism and our focus and funding are creating a sense of place. This is an important factor in how we build our economy in the city of Jackson, and now, we can do this together. Because, if we support the aims of one another, we all profit in the final analysis.”

Former state tourism director, now Senator and tourism committee vice-chairman John Horhn, recalled the wishes of founding Visit Jackson (then Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau director) Vickie Miller.

“She would say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the capital area were to come together and market all of its wonderful assets, its history, its culture, its outdoor activities, markets and festivals?’ he remembered. “I think that Vickie Miller would be very, very proud right now to see this capital area marketing campaign and partnership coming together and seeing that some of the folks that she helped to spawn are still around and still at it.”