This week is National Travel and Tourism Week.

To discuss the impact of tourism in Mississippi, Danielle Morgan with the Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau and Marlo Dorsey with Visit Hattiesburg joined Y’all Politics on Wednesday highlighting the state’s fourth-largest industry.

Mississippi’s tourism sector experienced its strongest year historically in FY2019. However, the business disruption effects of COVID-19 resulted in drastic declines for FY2020 with more than $1.1 billion in lost visitor spending in the last three months of the fiscal year.

While the industry was experiencing unprecedented challenges and economic losses, Mississippi’s local destination marketing organizations joined forces to find a recovery path forward. Through strong state leadership and swift action in the 2020 special session, the Mississippi Legislature created the Tourism Recovery Fund, appropriating $14 million in CARES Act relief funds. The bills, H.B. 1790 and H.B. 1791, provided the resources for local DMOs to responsibly market their destinations and stimulate economic recovery through pandemic appropriate campaigns.

Destination marketing campaigns were launched in key drive markets from September to December 2020, highlighting the open sectors of the economy and focusing on visiting Mississippi responsibly.

According to U.S. Travel, Mississippi was outperforming every other state in the country in year-over-year visitor spending by December. While Mississippi still suffered a 19 percent decline in visitor spending from the previous year, other southeastern states experienced 30-43 percent losses during the same timeframes.

With many economic forecasts showing veiled or stalled tourism recovery in several parts of the country, Mississippi DMOs are gearing up for continued progress. This year’s NTTW theme, ‘The Power of Travel’, will be highlighted throughout Mississippi showing the role tourism plays in continued economic recovery.

Watch the full interview with Morgan and Dorsey below.