Gulf Coast Tourism Partnership Parceling Out $16 Million from BP to Market MississippiBy Rhonda Miller | Published 27 Jul 2012 06:59pm |
The tourism marketing group in charge of spending $16 million from BP to help the Mississippi Gulf Coast bounce back from oil spill has groups lining up with grant applications. MPB’s Rhonda Miller has more.
At the meeting of the Gulf Coast Tourism Partnership Friday, some grant applications didn’t make the cut. Chairman of the partnership John McFarland said many good events just don’t meet the requirements, like the Radish Festival in Long Beach.
"Looking at their application, did it demonstrate the ability to increase room nights? And based upon the application, it didn’t."
The partnership is awarding grants for events that will draw tourists from outside the region and provide an upswing in hotel reservations. Grants have gone to events that include Crusin’ the Coast, music festivals, and golf and fishing tournaments.
McFarland said 900 new tourism jobs have been created in the past year.
But Executive Director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association Linda Hornsby said hotel operators need a bigger boost.
"Well, as far as hotel occupancy, it is flat. Year over year, we’ve not seen any type of an increase."
McFarland said by the end of this year, the tourism partnership will have spent more than $10 million of the $16 million fund. He said most of it was spent on advertising, a small amount on research, and the rest given out in grants. The money has to be spent by July 2014.
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