"Amazing Race" inspires tourism officials

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In lieu of an opening lecture, the Mississippi Tourism Association's Governor's Conference took a more competitive approach when beginning the conference. Sunday afternoon, six teams of tourism experts headed out to experience the best of South Mississippi in an Amazing Race style competition.

"We never really get to show them our destination. So, with this, we get to get them outside of our hotel walls and show them our destination. Show them all the things we can see and do," said conference attendee Neal McCoy.

The competition took teams everywhere from the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, to the Biloxi Visitors Center and the Ohr- O'Keefe Museum of Art. However, seeing the sights is only one part of the conference.

"It's an opportunity for us as tourism professionals to get together and talk about best tourism practices, things that are working for us and issues that we see in our industry. And how we're tackling those issues in our communities," said McCoy.

Promoting what an area has to offer is a challenge, and the Coast isn't the only area that has seen its share of obstacles.

"There are a lot of issues that we're facing right now. Obviously, the economy has affected things. It makes the traveler smarter than we are a lot of times about our own destination," said McCoy.

By meeting together and experiencing the fun first hand, tourism officials can help each other better the tourism industry that plays such a big role in the local and state economy.

"When people ask, 'what's to do on the coast?' They'll be able to say, 'well, we were just down there and we saw all these wonderful things,'" said Janet Harrington of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The conference will conclude Tuesday evening. This is the first time since 2002 that the Coast has played host to the annual event.

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