Money and marketing main themes at tourism conference

26th Governor's Tourism Conference at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. (Photo source: WLOX News)
26th Governor's Tourism Conference at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. (Photo source: WLOX News)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Tourism leaders from all around the state are on the coast for the 26th Governor's Tourism Conference. People from every aspect of the Mississippi tourism industry have a very important message to spread.

"Tourism is a huge asset to our state. People don't realize that we are the fourth largest industry in the state. For every dollar we use to advertise and market Mississippi we get $6 back in the general fund," said Rochelle Hicks, who is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Tourism Association.

Tourism generates $629 million a year for the state and that's why leaders of the industry want to remind lawmakers of the critical need to spend more money marketing Mississippi.

The state's tourism budget is only $3.2. million. That's considerably less than most of our competitors spend. The Governor's Conference on Tourism brings minds together to discuss ways to draw more people to our state. Traditional means of marketing in magazines and other sources still works, but one of the big topics of discussion at this conference is tapping into the power of social media. The Internet opens a world of opportunities.

Jennifer Combs from Natchez says it easier than ever to expose the world to what we have to offer.

"It has changed the way everyone does business. It's very immediate. You can share images and video. That is something that is attracting more people. It's very fast and far reaching," said Combs.

Tourism leaders plan to lobby lawmakers for more money for tourism during the 2015 legislative session.

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