Tourism Officials Are Meeting

The Hotel & Lodging Association's board of directors will meet Monday and Tuesday to explore strategies to bring back visitors to the state. ``What we want to do is work together to get some ideas and see what we can do to get people staying in our rooms in Mississippi,'' said Rick Holliday, head of the association.

The 151 properties that belong to the association have 21,000 rooms. ``We've all been through downturns in the economy before, but it's nothing like what we've seen since Sept. 11,'' Holliday said. While tourism is down nationwide since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, travel in Mississippi has suffered a little less because it depends more on car travel than air travel, said Darienne Wilson, a Gulfport native and head of the state Tourism Development Division. Wilson's office is spending $175,000 on a five-week television advertising campaign that promotes Mississippi attractions, marking the first time it has spent advertising within the state.

Holliday endorses Wilson's campaign to encourage state residents to visit other areas of the state. ``We have to get our home folks who would be traveling out of the state traveling in state,'' he said.