BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It was a mixture of sadness and excitement at the Harrison County Tourism Commission's final meeting. On Friday, members said their goodbyes as their group makes way for new coastwide tourism group. There is a lot of anticipation about the future.
Board members received tokens of appreciation for those who have served with dedication on the Harrison County Tourism Commission. For Drew Allen, that service amounts to 24 years.
"All of us have a common goal," said Allen, board member. "From the restaurateurs to the operators of the casinos to grow this product and that's the tourism product. We tend to come together and work better in this unit. And now the unit has been expanded to three counties."
The Harrison County Tourism Commission Board is disbanding because next month the new 15 member Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau will launch. Rip Daniels and Danny Hansen are the only current board members appointed to the new group.
Tourism Director Beth Carriere said, "We will have 13 new board members from all three counties and it will be official now that we're promoting all three. I find the best part of it is that Hancock and Jackson will now have a voice. They'll have a voice in what we do to promote them which is critical."
The departing board members said while they'll miss serving, they celebrate a new era of growing the coast tourism market.
"We're not enough talking about counties anymore. We've taken all of that information off of our materials and maps so it's one product the Mississippi Gulf Coast state line to state line," said Carriere.
Officials said the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau will have to establish some new bylaws since it will have more members and be connected to more board of supervisors than the previous board.