Hattiesburg’s tourism economy has continued to show impressive growth in the last decade. In celebration, VISITHATTIESBURGTM is recognizing the champions of local tourism during National Tourism and Travel Week 2017 on May 7-13 with a spread of events throughout the city that focus on the “Faces of Travel.”
This year’s theme of National Tourism and Travel Week serves to acknowledge those who make the industry strong and welcoming to all visitors. VISITHATTIESBURGTM will host multiple events to highlight the success of the tourism industry and to celebrate those who make a difference in Hattiesburg every day.
One such event is the Annual Tourism Partners Luncheon and Shining Star Awards ceremony held each year during National Tourism Week. The Shining Star Awards is Hattiesburg’s only service award program and recipients are nominated by industry partners.
In 2016, visitors spent more than $274 million in the Hattiesburg area. This spending supports more than 4,200 local jobs, 500 restaurants, 2700 hotel rooms, and hundreds of retail locations and attractions.
Rochelle Hicks, executive director of the Mississippi Tourism Association, said tourism is the fourth-largest industry in Mississippi, comprising more than 124,000 tourism employees across the state and accounting for $395 million to the state's general fund.
During the last fiscal year, 23 million visitors passed through the Magnolia State, spending approximately $6.3 billion.
"One of the main missions of the Mississippi Tourism Association is to increase the advertising and marketing budget for Mississippi," Hicks said. "We know that the more we invest in bringing visitors to our state, the more potential we have for growth.
"Studies show that for every dollar invested in tourism marketing to our state, we saw a $12.93 return on investment."
National Tourism Week Events: May 7-13
Monday, May 8 and Tuesday, May 9
VISITHATTIESBURGTM team members will stop by to say hello to community partners, including hotels, restaurants, and retailers, throughout the area to recognize them for their service.
Wednesday, May 10: 16th Annual Tourism Partner’s Luncheon and Shining Star Awards at the Hattiesburg Train Depot from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This event highlights local industry partners who have been nominated by their peers and supervisors for exceptional customer service. Nearly two-dozen local “Faces of Travel” will be recognized at this year’s annual luncheon.
Thursday, May 11: Tacos & Tequila at Hattiesburg Zoo from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Join VISITHATTIESBURGTM after hours at the Zoo for tacos and craft tequila pairings, chips and salsa, complete with festive live music, South American animal encounters, giant Jenga, and beer pong! This event is limited to guests 21 or older only, and tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the gate the day of the event. Guests are encouraged to secure tickets as soon as possible as there are only 400 available.
Friday, May 12: Visitors Center Open House from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
VISITHATTIESBURGTM ambassadors will have complimentary donuts and coffee from 9 a.m. until noon and cookies and lemonade from noon until 5 p.m. for guests. Visitors can also register to win an HBURG gift basket valued at $200. Those who purchase items from the Visitors Center store will receive 20 percent off their order.
Friday, May 12: VISITHATTIESBURGTM presents Live at Five from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The entire community is invited to the free, outdoor music event held at Town Square Park. VISITHATTIESBURGTM and all Hattiesburg Convention Commission facilities will be present. The first 100 guests to stop by the VISITHATTIESBURGTM booth will have the opportunity to spin the prize wheel for a chance to win.
One Convention Center Plaza, Hattiesburg, MS 39401 | 601.296.7475
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