Tourism Boosts MS Economy, Offers 'World-Class' Product
January 22, 2020
The Mississippi Tourism Association (MTA) says tourism is big business for the state.
In a press conference held on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol rotunda on Wednesday during MTA Day, the organization touted the numbers that prove the claim.
24.7M visitors came to Mississippi in the fiscal year 2019, an increase of nearly 3%. $675M was collected in state and local taxes and 122,850 jobs serve the industry, a nearly 2% increase in what is the state’s fourth-largest employment sector.
“2020 is sure to be a great new year for tourism in Mississippi,” said Rochelle Hicks, Executive Director of the Mississippi Tourism Association. “
Hicks said MTA has lobbied for seven years for a permanent source of funding for tourism advertising and marketing for Mississippi.
“Thanks to our (state) leadership and legislature, we have been successful in creating the Tourism Promotions Act that will give us approximately $12M by 2021 to tell our Mississippi story,” Hicks explained. “We will now be competitive with our surrounding states that have similar budgets, we can increase marketing efforts in several areas and increase our return on investment for Mississippi.”
Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, speaking to a crowd of tourism professionals gathered the Capital, said the tourism product is something to help the state move forward and fund teacher salary pay raises and pre-k education.
“It is finally here to realize that the fourth largest income producer in the state is tourism,” he said. “It’s time for it to step out in its own way that it runs things so that we can give it the service it needs from the legislative end. (The tourism industry) lifts the whole boat. And you are a critical component of economics.”
Lt. Governor Hosemann pointed out statewide gems like the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s gaming industry, the Mississippi Museum Experience in Meridian, the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, the Elvis Presley Museum and birthplace in Tupelo and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History in Jackson.
“What we have is world-class tourism from the Coast to Corinth,” he noted. “Every city in Mississippi has a history we can bring people in to. What we hear the most (from visitors) is that ‘I never knew it was like this.’ Because if I can get them here to meet any one of you, then they are sold on Mississippi.”