State Tourism Leaders Making Due With Less

Even though one of the state's largest industries is working with fewer dollars, it's still doing wonders for Mississippi. The number of tourists coming to Mississippi increased from last year by 2 million people. Tourism is a six billion dollar industry in Mississippi and the Gulf Coast remains the number one vacation spot.

The State Division of Tourism held a conference on Tuesday in Jackson where the state tourism office explained its plans for luring visitors to the state. Darienne Wilson is the executive director of the Division of Tourism, "There's nothing new under the sun, we have to come up with ways to sell the same product in different ways. We're doing that by developing some golf trails, some film trails... you can go from Oxford to Canton and see where "Time to Kill" and other movies were made in the state."

The state has been airing commercials throughout the region to attract visitors. The ads must be working, officials say, because the number of days the average tourist spends in Mississippi has increased from 3.4 to 3.7. "They're making plans to come here they're not just coming here to see family and friends which is an older trend," Wilson said.

Like all budgets in the state, tourism received a significant cut. The Division gets nearly six and a half million dollars from the legislature for advertising and promotion. Gulf coast Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director, Steve Richer is happy with the new ad campaign. "The fact that they have less dollars but better ads probably is going to work out better and I'm very happy that the state tourism office prioritized the advertising over some other things," Richer said.

Many tourism leaders say the new ad campaign is much more effective, and they hope the number of people visiting the state will continue to increase.