GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - South Mississippi has a lot to offer to the unassuming traveler. We know that, but not everybody does, and with this year’s algal bloom, coast tourism is now in damage repair mode. So Thursday, Coastal Mississippi spoke to the experts.
“I think we’re here today to help the destination do a better job of marketing themselves and really understand what triggers are going to bring in more visitation to the destination," said Matt Hansen, Director of Business Development with Expedia Group.
So when mother nature throws a curveball, how do those experts communicate to the masses about the Secret Coast?
“I look at some of the bigger issues like hurricane recovery. We’ve worked with other destinations to help them kind of bounce back and make sure that consumers know that they’re open for business, even if it’s an algae situation, which is big enough for the Gulf Coast. We can help in marketing that message out to consumers," Hansen said.
“I think it’s about being proactive in terms of pre-planning, knowing that if something’s going to happen on an annual basis, how does everybody communicate from the same messaging," said Melissa Cherry, COO of Destinations International. “Not just Coastal Mississippi, and the team, and how they’re talking to visitors that they want to come in, but key stakeholders in governmental areas where they’re issuing warnings."
Once things are back to normal, these out-of-state industry leaders know exactly how to sell our brand of tourism. Charles McCool, owner of McCool Travel, is based in Washington, D.C.
“I get to travel a lot. I’m very fortunate in that way. I look forward to coming here, and getting off the plane and 20 minutes later and putting my feet in that sand," McCool said.
Even to the seasoned traveler, our Gulf Coast has appeal that rivals many other places and, to these savvy adventurers, isn’t really a hard sell after all.
“What differentiates Coastal Mississippi from a lot of the destination that I work with? It’s beautiful, it has fresh seafood, it has a lot of undiscovered hidden charms. I love all that, but really, the people here make it something special to me," McCool said.