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Tourism reaches record highs in Mississippi

2017 Double Decker Art Festival in Oxford. Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

Tourism is continuing to expand in Mississippi.

According to the latest ‘Visit Mississippi Tourism Economic Impact Report’, visitors spent nearly $6.4 billion while visiting Mississippi in Fiscal Year 2017 which is the second-highest amount on record. In a news release from the Mississippi Development Authority, Governor Bryant attributed the growth in tourism to a continued effort to attract new visitors. 

“Mississippi continues to attract visitors to destinations throughout our state,” said Governor Phil Bryant. “These latest numbers show a healthy appetite for our world-class food, culture and hospitality.”

The increased tourism rate translates to revenue for the state. With more than 23 million people descending on Mississippi, nearly $400 million was generated for the state’s General Fund, which means that travel and tourism account for nearly 8% of the fund.

Employment opportunities have also gone up. “Direct” employment has reached a 12-year high with over 87,000 people in the tourism industry. In total, 124,680 are employed as a result of tourism in Mississippi. MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. says that this provides an economic boom for the Magnolia state.

“Travel and tourism is our fourth-largest employer, accounting for $3 billion in total labor income for Mississippians annually,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “With 10.9 percent of all jobs in the state connected to travel and tourism, this vibrant industry is vital for the continued growth of our economy.”

Out-of-state-visitors spent an estimated $4.9 billion in the state in FY 2017, making up more than three-quarters of total visitor spending. The number of international visitors grew by 1.6 percent from Calendar Year 2016 to 2017, totaling 149,900.

“Travel and tourism in Mississippi continues to have a positive economic impact by providing authentic, engaging visitor experiences,” said Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray.

According to the report, the bulk of the state’s tourism revenue came from the gaming industry. Casinos across the state accounted for $2.09 billion, which nearly 66% of visitor spending and 22% of statewide travel and tourism expenditures. 

Over the past year, Mississippi celebrated its bicentennial which brought in revenue in several areas across the state, and in December, the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights & History Museums signaled a new attraction in Downtown Jackson.

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