New CVB director begins first day on the job

Renee Areng seats down for an interview at her new office.
Renee Areng seats down for an interview at her new office.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The new executive director for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau or CVB began her first day on the job Friday.

CVB board members announced back in June, Renee Areng would be the new leader. With 20 years of experience in tourism including time at the tourism bureau in nearby Louisiana, Areng says she's rather familiar with what South Mississippi has to offer. At her new office, we asked her what she's learned so far about coast and what areas she'd like to work on.

Areng's first day began with a series of meetings, as well as one on ones with staff members, where she listened to their input.

"There was a lot of that going on today. What would you like to see changed? What would you like to see different? What do you love about the coast? What do you love about your job? So they all had some great ideas on what they would like to implement and move forward on," said Areng.

Something she's worked on since the day board members hired her until now is, research. Looking at what cornerstone events are being hosted in this area on a regular basis and which ones are leaving are a few of the questions she's seeking answers to.

"Once you prove that the destination is capable of hosting things on a regular basis, I think it really helps for the signature events to look at the destination as a possibility. There's a huge opportunity with LEGO this Fall that I know will get some national recognition, but are those cornerstones or are those one offs? I'm not sure of that yet," said Areng.

With the opening of the White House Hotel, seafood museum and the future opening of a baseball stadium, Areng sees these as opportunities to promote something new, attract new visitors and keep visitors here longer.

"The more experiences we can offer, the better the experience everyone has," said Areng.

Like any other job, Areng has goals she has to meet. One of those is helping other coast organizations to fill gaps in tourism products and amenities. When asked what drew her to the tourism industry. The answer brought up a smile.

"Everyone loves to bring home great stories and so if I can help them create a great story to share with their friends and family and next generation that's why I do it," said added.

Areng is signed to a three year contract with the CVB. Currently, the CVB's operating budget is around $3 million.

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