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Mississippi Tourism Leaders Want More Dollars to Attract Visitors.

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 05 Mar 2013 02:38pm | comments

Tourism leaders in Mississippi are asking lawmakers for a dedicated funding mechanism that would help the state compete for tourism dollars. And as MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports the industry brings in billions of dollars annually for the state.

Tourism in Mississippi begins with what most people recognize golf, fishing and hunting along with other assets like the Mississippi River and the Natchez Trace. But Malcolm White, Director of the Mississippi Tourism Division says it also includes Mississippi's rich cultural history.

"It invites people to come visit us to spend the night, To come see the BB King Museum and see Robert Johnson's birthplace, And then go over to Meridian and see the Jimmy Rogers Museum and then go down to the coast for the George Ohr Museum. And to move around the state and to spend the night and eat food. And we need to learn to be proud of it all. We own it and we wanna invite people to come and we wanna tell it to em."

White says while the state's tourism industry generates 6 billion dollars annually he believes the payoff could be  even higher. That's why he and other tourism leaders are asking lawmakers to revise the Tourism Incentive Program to help Mississippi continue to become a destination for visitors.

"And the premise is as we increase the tourism dollars raised we spend a portion of that money to promote our state. We're not taking money from the general fund, we're taking the increase in our industry and spending it because every dollar we spend in tourism comes back to us in the form of $6.46. It's a huge return in our investment."

Dede Mogollon, is the executive Director of the Lauderdale County Division of Tourism.

"When you look at the states around us and what they're spending in regards to what we're spending it’s very difficult to compete. And considering the tourism industry saves every tax payer $550 dollars we don't want them stealing our customers. We want them coming to Mississippi and help saving all of our taxpayers money."

More than 83 thousand people are employed in Mississippi's tourism industry and it generates more than 8% of the overall general fund. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.  

 

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