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Tourism Leaders Say Hollywood and Cultural Trails Boosting Visitors to Mississippi

By Rhonda Miller | Published 09 May 2012 07:28pm | comments
Torye Hurst, of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, left, welcomes Rosemary Kindorf, of Reno, Nevada, to the Biloxi Visitors Center during National Travel and Tourism Week.

This is National Travel and Tourism Week and Mississippi’s economic development leaders say Hollywood and cultural trails are having a positive impact. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports visitors are showing up from across the country to experience offerings ranging from the blues to the beach.

"We have free popcorn here today, free coffee, we’ve got brochures here..."

Donny Rocha at the Biloxi Visitors Center is one of the Mississippi tourism officials offering popcorn and a personal greeting this week at welcome centers along the Gulf Coast.  It’s a warm welcome for Rosemary Kindorf of Reno, Nevada.

"So what do you think of Mississippi so far?"

"Beautiful. The South has been beautiful and friendly and we couldn’t have asked for better. We’re driving around here and wanted to see the coast."

She’s one of many at the visitors center who came a long distance. Bryan Soard traveled from Urbanna, Illinois with his family, including his 3-year-old granddaughter. After trying neighboring states on other vacations, he says they prefer Mississippi.

"We’ve been to the beach already. We like the easy access to the beach, whereas, the other beaches, they’re crowded and they're hard to get to."

But the upswing in tourism is not limited to the Gulf Coast.  Sandy Bynum of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division says the movie "The Help" is bringing national and international attention, especially to filming locations in Greenwood and Jackson. She says cultural trails are also a big draw throughout the state.

"Our blues trail, our Mississippi freedom trail, these museums without walls get people into even some of our smaller communities where a visitor might not normally stop."

Overall, visitor spending in Mississippi rose from $5.5 billion in 2010 to $6 billion last year. Industry leaders hope this year will be even stronger.

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Torye Hurst, of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, left, welcomes Rosemary Kindorf, of Reno, Nevada, to the Biloxi Visitors Center during National Travel and Tourism Week.


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