HATTIESBURG TOURISM STRONG: THE SPIRIT OF TRAVEL
HATTIESBURG (May 4, 2020) - Springtime typically marks the beginning of peak travel season in Hattiesburg and continues throughout the summer months, but this season has thrown us all a colossal curveball like we’ve never seen before. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a multitude of hardships for people and places everywhere. Most significant is the public health crisis we all find ourselves in, which has also brought our once thriving economy to its knees.
Yes, the health and safety of our residents and visitors remains our top priority, and we honor all of the healthcare heroes who are on the front lines fighting the good fight to combat this invisible enemy. At the same time, the month of May is when the U.S. Travel Industry officially celebrates the significant economic and positive impact of its restaurants, hotels, and tourism attractions, as well as the millions of professionals who serve in the travel and tourism industry’s workforce. It’s called National Travel and Tourism Week.
The theme of this year’s tourism celebration is Spirit of Travel, which shares a compelling story of resilience and hope while facing extraordinary challenges as an industry. In the face of adversity, we still have much to celebrate. We still pride ourselves in being exceptional stewards of goodwill, kind words, and quality service to our guests. We still stand together while we are apart. We still stand strong and united, knowing travel will resume again.
We acknowledge the impressive economic strides once achieved as an industry. In 2019, visitors yielded $1.1 trillion in direct spending at the national level, $6.7 billion in Mississippi, and more than $300 million in Greater Hattiesburg. At the local level, Hattiesburg employed approximately 4,600 people in the tourism industry in 2019, many of whom are now unemployed.
As an industry, our combined efforts extend far beyond just filling hotel rooms, restaurants, and attractions in town. The local tourism industry helps Hattiesburg compete for the nation’s visibility, attention, and respect; it competes for tourists, consumers, and available talent and workforce to support our numerous economic development sectors. Tourism provides millions in dollars in visitor revenue and private sector capital investments to our hometown.
That’s why there has never been a more important time to support local and preserve the Spirit of Travel in Hattiesburg. At VisitHattiesburg, we embrace our role of strengthening the community’s economic position and vitality seriously. We work tirelessly along with our community leaders from the public and private sectors to promote Hattiesburg as an attractive destination while creating a dynamic place to live, work, and play. We celebrate the creative economy that lends to the diversity and beauty of our destination.
During these unprecedented times, we’ve doubled down on our efforts to do our part to help recover the local economy by staying aware of the public health and economic effects of this global pandemic and what it means for Hattiesburg. We’ve listened to our tourism partners, shared best practices from our public health offices, and communicated facts to our stakeholders and community.
We will continue to protect and celebrate the Spirit of Travel in Hattiesburg. Our community is filled with tremendously talented people in our creative economy. We will work alongside our hotel friends, our restaurant friends, our small business friends, our art community friends, and our public leaders (who are also our friends.) We will be innovative. We will adapt our business models as our market recovers. Most importantly, we will press on. Together. Better days are ahead of us, and tourism will be a vital part of healing Hattiesburg’s economy while also breathing fresh, clean air back into its optimism too.
People will travel again, and we look forward to warmly and safely welcoming them back. The Spirit of Travel cannot be broken. #HattiesburgStrong #TheHattiesburgWay #TourismStrong #VisitHBURG #VistMS #NTTW20 #SpirtofTravel
Visit Hattiesburg, Executive Director
Mississippi Tourism Association, Vice-President
Mississippi Main Street, State Board Member