We’re still on a tourism high in Natchez

Published 11:00 am Sunday, November 6, 2022

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By Jennie Guido

Two weeks ago, we at the Mississippi Tourism Association hosted our annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Tunica, Mississippi. The first reason that made me happy was because I was going to be in the Mississippi Delta in the fall. Secondly, I was extremely close to Cleveland, which meant I got to see some of my favorite people while passing through (and make a stop at McCarty Pottery).

The difference between hosting the event and attending like I’ve done in years past is that I got to help curate the lineup of speakers, pay attention to the little details that make these events memorable, and I still was able to spend time with my tourism best friends from around the state.

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Those who have worked in the hospitality and tourism industry know that it’s a club you join, and it’s so refreshing to spend time with each other and take some time to debrief on the latest happening in our areas.

That’s what this week was for us. That and it was a chance to get to learn a little more about some trends across the nation when it comes to tourism (especially since we are coming out of the pandemic).

It’s been a tough two and half years for all of us, but tourism was hit hard with everyone staying home. We all know that our drive markets were what kept us going in the beginning; and with the way that air travel is trending right now, it still is our bread and butter for tourism success.

Our keynote speaker, Bill Geist with DMO Proz, had some interesting take-aways that I’d like to share with our locals. I feel like there is a chance for all of us here in town to be a tourism professional and make the best for our visitors in the coming holiday months.

Bill explained that in tourism there are three types of money: good, neutral, and bad. Good money is that revenue that comes from a tourist from out of state. So when Louisiana money crosses the river, you have good money. Neutral money is Mississippi money that stays in state. Let’s say you take a day trip to Jackson shopping – that’s neutral. Bad money is when we go out of state or an out-of-stater chooses a non-Mississippi destination.

Most tourism professionals want to think they only deal in good money and are working hard to stop bad money from happening. However, let’s not sleep on that neutral money!

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to the folks at Kiwanis and explain this same concept to them. I gave them the challenge of touring their own state. Go shopping in Vicksburg. Head up to Oxford to eat your way through the Square. Stay in Ocean Springs and visit the Secret Coast.

Remember that trip to the Delta I took mid-October? All of my stops to shop and eat along the way resulted in lots of neutral money.

How can you create some neutral money for Mississippi this holiday season?