JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A new look at how the effort to market the entire Mississippi coast as one tourist destination is coming along.
The CEO of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast hit the road to address the Jackson County board of supervisors. No doubt, Jackson County offers a lot for prospective visitors, from the Round Island lighthouse to Buffett Beach.
Three years into the plan to market the 80-mile long coastline, Milton Segarra also says the county is contributing in even bigger ways. “In room tax collections, we grew 12 percent. Jackson County itself grew 20 percent, which was the county that grew the most in terms of room collections in the previous year,” Segarra explained.
The commitment to Jackson County has not gone unnoticed by supervisors, including Troy Ross. “I believe it’s working in the direction, what our desire was when we first set up. I think we need to continue to improve and get better at it," he said.
Carla Todd, director of the county’s Chamber of Commerce, said the biggest challenge will be getting the word out. She explained, “There are so many things that the average person does not know about when they come to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We have a lot to offer, not only for the adults, but entire families.”
Working together though has produced tangible results. The proof is in the numbers. “I attribute it to all three counties going together and pooling all their resources to have access to markets that we wouldn’t normally have," said Richard Chenoweth, a board member with Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Supervisors say they are generally pleased with what has happened tourism promotion over the past three years.
In Jackson County, there is always room for improvement. That improvement begins and ends with Mother Nature. Ross added, “You could come here on a four day convention and come see the longest uninhibited river in the United States, you can come here and see the wildlife and Gulf Islands National Seashore.”
Some 13.5 million people did just that in the past year.
Segarra also told supervisors a new branding slogan for the coast will be unveiled after the first of the year. The agency’s budget will increase from the current $4.4 million to $4.9 million.