BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau Board got a new executive director this year. Renee Areng has been in the position for four months, and seems to be proud of the way things are going.
With a new marketing campaign, a new executive director, and tourism numbers for up from 2013, Renee Areng is hopeful the Gulf Coast CVB will have another successful year in 2015. "All of the indicators are pointing up which is great. So the numbers in 2013 were 5.4 million visitors spending just under 2 billion dollars on the coast," Areng said.
Areng says the average daily rate for non casino hotels is up 2.6 percent, and Casino occupancy is up almost 3 percent. "The revenue for the occupancy tax for both Harrison and Hancock counties is up 15 percent, which is what funds our marketing efforts," Areng noted.
Cruisin' the Coast is one of South Mississippi's biggest tourism events, and this year's record breaking numbers have a lot to do with the rise in tourism revenue. According to Areng, "Cruisin' the Coast is definitely a signature event. I would love to see that expand to other opportunities as well."
The current marketing campaign is called "Stay a while, you'll get it." Areng says it showcases the more engaging coastal experiences, not necessarily beach specific, but water experiences, dining, casinos, and golf. "The marketing campaign that is in place promoting events and experiences will continue through 2015, and we'll watch as unique visits hopefully increase on the website since most of the promotions will be gearing everyone to go to the website to build itinerary and book their trips," the tourism director said.
One of the first opportunities for tourism in 2015 will be the CVB's Sugar Bowl promotion, which is just days away. Areng says there are already four shuttles filled and many hotel rooms booked for that stay.