Gulf Coast tourism thrives—even amid COVID

crusin the coast
The coast enjoyed a modified, successful version of Cruisin' the Coast in October 2020

Tourism is the lifeblood of Mississippi’s tri-county coastal region, and while the impact of COVID-19 has inarguably been indelible, Coastal Mississippi has nonetheless seen successes and growth in the past year. Mississippi was the top travel spending market in the U.S. in 2020, and Coastal Mississippi accounts for one-third of the state’s tourism employees, expenditures, and taxes. This places Coastal Mississippi as one of the highest performing destinations in the nation last year.

Thanks to state leadership and unwavering dedication displayed by the Coastal Delegation, Coastal Mississippi was awarded $3.4 million from the Tourism Recovery Fund (TRF), providing the tools and resources needed to drive visitor demand and fuel recovery for the community. In collaboration with community leaders, industry professionals, healthcare partners, and research initiatives, Coastal Mississippi created the Coastal Mississippi Recovery Plan to continue the momentum built prior to COVID-19 and ensure a strong economic future. This plan is based on the following framework: Consumer sentiment and intent to travel; The readiness of the destination for tourism; Input from partners and stakeholders, and Industry and competitive analysis.

As a part of Coastal Mississippi’s TRF efforts, the destination marketing organization (DMO) commissioned studies to evaluate the region’s visitation impact, destination perception, and advertising awareness. In 2019, The Secret Coast welcomed 14.2 million visitors per year, amounting to total expenditures of $1.816 billion. Casinos have remained a top reason for visiting, maintaining the region’s position as the south’s leading gaming destination. Outdoor activities, events, attractions, and business travel were also main visitation drivers. Research shows that an overwhelming majority of visitors to Coastal Mississippi are very satisfied with their overall trip experience and the friendliness of the people, which has led to a repeat visitation rate of 75%. To further highlight the impact that Coastal Mississippi’s residents and community have on the tourism industry, 20-25% of visitors listed visiting friends and family as a primary reason for their trip.

“Coastal Mississippi is perfectly poised to welcome visitors to a destination with an abundance of safe, enjoyable adventures, small coastal communities offering unique experiences, plenty of space to roam, and Southern hospitality at its finest,” said Coastal Mississippi CEO, Milton Segarra. “In fact, our research shows that intent to visit Coastal Mississippi ranks higher than Pensacola, Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, over the next 18 months.”

With continued dedication to maintaining the Coastal Mississippi Promise of health and safety, Coastal Mississippi continues its endeavors to promote The Secret Coast and looks forward to welcoming many more visitors to safely discover the #MSCoastLife. To find out more, visit: www.coastalmississippi.com.

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Written by Coastal Mississippi

Coastal Mississippi is an organization charged with promoting South Mississippi as a tourism and convention destination worldwide. Its mission centers on attracting ever-increasing numbers of leisure, convention, sports and business visitors to the area. It is dedicated to maximizing the travel and tourism industry for South Mississippi.

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