Visit Mississippi has released the 2016 Economic Impact Report to highlight the benefit tourists brought to the state.
$6.3 billion dollars were brought into the state last year, and there was a drastic increase in the number of people visiting the Magnolia State.
“There were 700,000 more visitors to the state last year,” said Craig Ray, Director of Visit Mississippi. “What we learned from this year is that we had a great year.”
Ray said that the visitors that came into the stay also stayed nearly three days longer than the visitors the year before.
Visit Mississippi and the Mississippi Development Authority have worked together to bring tourism up in the state.
“They’re coming to see the Blues Trail, they’re coming to the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “But they’re coming and understanding that there are no people like the people of Mississippi.”
In tourism numbers, there are many parts of the puzzle that play a large part in the boost of tourists in the state.
“Gaming numbers were good last year, our convention business, hunting and fishing,” said Ray. “And our sports events. You look at a baseball weekend in Starkville or Oxford and there could be 45,000 tourists that come into town for one weekend.”
The impact of tourists flooding the state isn’t limited to the length of the stay.
“Last year there were 86,600 direct tourism jobs, and another 37,500 indirect jobs that spin off that tourism business,” said Ray. “And as the number of travelers go up, there’s a need for more restaurants, resorts, and jobs.”
Overall, direct employment from tourism in the state increased by 1.7 percent, with the largest category of increase being in tourism advertising and marketing, which saw a 9.8 percent increase.
There was a nearly $3 billion dollar total labor income for the state from tourism in 2016.
While 2016 showed great improvement, MDA and Visit Mississippi are both excited to see the 2017 numbers.
“This is our 200th birthday,” said McCollough. “We’ve got the opening of two great museums, we’ve got concerts… it’s a great bicentennial year.”
“The bicentennial not only moves the needle in people visiting the state,” said Ray. “But it also gives you an opportunity to talk about what’s happening in your state through advertising. I’m very excited to see the numbers for next year and how the bicentennial played into that.”