From enhancing local quality of life to being a significant job creator, the “Travel Matters” theme highlights the many ways travel and tourism add value to communities. In 2018, visitors spent more than $292 million in Hattiesburg’s economy, an increase of 5.1% over 2017. This visitor spending helps to support more than 500 restaurants, 3,000 hotel rooms, and numerous retail and visitor attractions. Combined, Hattiesburg tourism supports an estimated 4,470 local jobs.


National Travel and Tourism Week also provides the VisitHBURG team with the chance to identify those who make the industry successful and welcoming to all visitors. One such event is the Annual Tourism Partners Luncheon and Shining Star Awards ceremony held each year during this week. The Shining Star Award is Hattiesburg’s only service recognition program, and recipients are nominated by industry partners in hotels, restaurants, attractions, and government.


“According to the U.S. Travel Association, Americans travel for five main reasons: visiting family, gathering with friends, shopping, sightseeing, and dining. As a destination, Hattiesburg is abundant with these top tourism offerings,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHBURG, said. “National Tourism Week also gives us an opportunity to highlight the incredible work of our local front-line ambassadors, event planners, and others behind the scenes who engage with our visitors to ensure positive experiences.”


Throughout the week, VisitHATTIESBURG is highlighting 13 areas that contribute to a destination’s success: experiences, adventure, food, curb appeal, storytelling, authenticity, knowledge, friendliness, comfort, service, memories, and the local community. Additionally, VisitHATTIESBURG is asking residents to help promote local establishments through a “HBURG Hotspots Challenge” on Trip Advisor and Yelp. The grand prize challenge winner will receive a two-night trip to a Mississippi destination, including accommodations, dining, and attraction passes. Participation details and the checklist can be found at Other National Tourism Week components include VisitHATTIESBURG coasters at local restaurants, a video series on social media, and new tourism partner window decals for local hotels, restaurants, and tourism attractions.




Monday, May 6 and Tuesday, May 7: Partner Thank You Blitz VisitHBURG team members will stop by to say hello to community partners, including hotels, restaurants, attractions, and retailers, throughout the area to recognize them for their service.

Wednesday, May 8: 18th Annual Tourism Partner’s Luncheon and Shining Star Awards This event highlights local industry partners who have been nominated by their peers and supervisors for exceptional customer service. More than 35 local Shining Stars will be recognized at this year’s annual luncheon.

Thursday, May 9: Service Partner Thank You Blitz VisitHBURG team members will visit with service partners to thank them for their behind-the-scenes work that keeps our events, community, and shared spaces running safely and smoothly.

Friday, May 10: Visitors Center Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. VisitHBURG ambassadors will serve complimentary refreshments from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can also register for door prizes, and those who purchase items from the Visitors Center gift shop will receive a 20 percent discount.

Friday, May 10: VisitHBURG presents Live at Five from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The community is invited to this encore of Live at Five, which is a free, outdoor music event held at Town Square Park. The first 200 guests to stop by the beverage booths will receive a free HBURG cup or can koozie. Prizes will be given out from the stage during the program. For more information on the events of the week, follow VisitHATTIESBURG online at, Facebook, or by signing up for the organization’s weekly newsletter.