Tourism Will Be Key to Driving Economic Recovery

Summertime typically marks peak travel season in Mississippi, but this season has thrown us all a colossal curveball like we’ve never seen before. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a multitude of hardships for people and places everywhere. Most significant is the public health crisis we all find ourselves in, which has brought our once-thriving economy to its knees.

From mid-March through May 16, national industry research firm Tourism Economics reported approximately $1.2 billion in Mississippi visitor spending was lost, which resulted in $47 million in lost state tax revenue and $15 million in lost local tax revenue when compared to this time last year. That’s a $62 million gap, just in Mississippi tax revenue, that will greatly widen as COVID-19 continues to take a dismal economic toll on visitor destinations throughout our state.

For many of us, summertime accounts for 35 percent or more of overall visitor volume in our destinations. Tourism sustains 120,000 jobs in Mississippi. Approximately half of those jobs were lost by the end of April due to the effects of the pandemic. Additionally, U.S. Travel published that travel industry losses will exceed that of any other sector. To put this another way, economic losses to our industry are expected to be nine times more than the economic losses to travel after 9/11.

While those losses are certainly staggering, we acknowledge the impressive economic strides once achieved as an industry. In 2019, 24.7 million visitors spent $6.7 billion in Mississippi.

From our largest destinations to our smallest rural towns, we all rely upon these outside visitor dollars for long-term economic stability. Our communities need swift action to help drive recovery from these devastating economic losses. Doing so now empowers our destinations to salvage what is left of our peak travel season.

Our Mississippi destination marketing organizations (DMOs), your local tourism offices and visitors’ bureaus, embrace our role of strengthening the community’s economic position and vitality – a role we take very seriously. We work tirelessly along with community leaders from the public and private sectors to promote Mississippi as an attractive destination while creating a dynamic place to live, work, and play. Our local tourism offices need the financial resources to effectively market our communities as we gradually reopen to tourists following pandemic-related closings.

As Mississippi’s communities rely on visitor dollars, the hospitality industry also greatly relies on their local tourism offices to drive foot traffic and increase visibility through marketing campaigns. The Tourism Recovery Fund will provide direct support to our local tourism offices to make this possible. Local restaurants, hotels, attractions, main streets, and many others are counting on us more than ever before, and we are eager to serve.

We must have the resources to implement solid and sustainable recovery plans, because an economic rebound from this global pandemic will not occur without it. No other economic sector can match tourism’s ability to quickly reengage business and put employees back to work. By implementing informed marketing and advertising campaigns for our destinations, the Tourism Recovery Fund will provide needed awareness and also generate new business at the local, regional, and state level.

We know successful destination marketing can reignite consumer and visitor spending in our state, generate substantial new revenue and restore thousands of lost hospitality jobs. This investment in the Tourism Recovery Fund will stimulate economic growth and yield high rates of return for all Mississippians by allowing us to tell our unique story.

Better days are ahead of us, and tourism will be a vital part of healing Mississippi’s economy while also breathing new life back into the optimistic spirit that makes Mississippi so special.

The hospitality state is ready to get back in the hospitality business. #TourismStrong #MississippiStrong #TourismDrivesRecovery

Signed by your Mississippi Local Tourism Directors and Organizations:

Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau; Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau; Visit Canton; Visit Clarksdale; Visit Cleveland; Coastal Mississippi; Visit Columbus; Visit Corinth; Visit DeSoto County; Greenville / Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau; Visit Greenwood; Visit Grenada; Visit Hattiesburg; Visit Holly Springs; Aberdeen Visitors Bureau; Visit Jackson; Visit Meridian; Visit Natchez; Starkville Development Partnership; Visit Oxford; Visit Ridgeland; Visit Vicksburg; Visit Yazoo