October 5, 2019 10:02:09 PM
The Mississippi Tourism Association (MTA) recognized the impact and accomplishments of the state's tourism industry at the Governor's Conference on Tourism held at the Trotter Convention Center in Columbus Sept. 22-24.
This annual educational and professional development event brought together more than 250 tourism industry professionals from across the state as well as tourism partners from the surrounding region.
The awards program gives MTA the opportunity to recognize the best of the best from their 300+-member organization. Awards were presented in 15 categories, each focusing on a different aspect of the hospitality industry or individual achievement.
As a top honor, Visit Columbus (VC) was awarded Destination Marketing Organization of the Year in the category of $0-$499,0000.
Despite losing funding July 2018-June 2019, Visit Columbus continued to enhance and promote the destination brand experience of the city and Lowndes County. By showcasing historic homes, the childhood home of playwright Tennessee Williams and the Tombigbee River and Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, Visit Columbus increased visitor spending for economic growth and quality of life. Visit Columbus' continued work allowed them to display the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program seal recognizing them as an organization committed to industry excellence and meeting the industry standard for performance and accountability of organizations worldwide.
Nancy Carpenter, Visit Columbus CEO, is certified as one of four executives in the State of Mississippi under the Certified Destination Management Executive Program and has received numerous accolades over the past year.
Visit Columbus' partnership with the Mississippi University for Women continues to grow. Held in the fall, the Eudora Welty Symposium has grown into a leading national literary attraction through joint advertising efforts with The W and Visit Columbus. Visit Columbus and the Columbus Air Force Base collaborate to welcome one-third of the Air Force's pilots to the area. During the past year, Visit Columbus hosted the Art 'N Antiques Show and Sale, the Housing Authority State of Mississippi Conference, the Australian Literary Tour and the Mississippi Heritage Trust. They also hosted the International Order of the Eastern Star, which welcomed over 400 attendees creating an economic impact of over $500,000.
Visit Columbus worked closely with the local recreation authority and other sporting affiliates in sports promotion and marketing to develop and expand sports tourism outreach. During fiscal year 2018-2019, they hosted or provided support for tournaments such as the Golden Triangle Tennis "Battle of the States," USBC Bowling Tournaments, Mississippi Bass Nations Tournament, Mississippi High School Bass Federation Tournament, Junior Tennis Tournament at Magnolia Tennis Club and the U.S. Women's Amateur Golf Championship at Old Waverly.
"This recognition should be given to our tourism industry leaders who we value for their talents and achievements through their outstanding accomplishments. We are happy to have the opportunity to honor the winners of these awards as we truly appreciate their dedication not only to our organization but to the entire tourism industry, the state's fourth largest industry," said Annette Rand, 2019-2020 president of MTA.
The Mississippi Tourism Association is comprised of tourism professionals established to support and empower Mississippi's tourism industry through advocacy and education. Membership is open to those in the hospitality industry as well as public service organizations and allied businesses.
2. The W reports enrollment increase COMMUNITY