Chamber sponsors FAM tour
By Echo Staff
Apr 18, 2014, 18:48
The Hancock Chamber of Commerce this week sponsored a FAM Tour of Hancock County for the State Tourism Sales Team with the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau.
Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, said the tour is a significant step toward boosting tourism in Hancock County and across the Mississippi Coast.
Williams said tourism is the Coast’s primary economic engine and one of the most important for Mississippi. In the 2013 Travel and Tourism Economic Contribution Report just released by the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division, travel and tourism expenditures by visitors to the three Mississippi Coast counties are estimated at over $1.7 billion, employing more than 24,000 people.
State and local taxes and fees attributed to tourism during 2013 on the Coast totaled more than $190 million. In Hancock County alone, direct travel and tourism jobs total 1,845 with $156 million in travel and tourism expenditures, Williams said, generating more than $17 million in state and local taxes and fees attributed to tourism.
The Hancock Chamber recently launched two new campaigns to provide resources to visitors to drive sales for local businesses and taxes for local government. The first campaign –YOUR VIEW JUST GOT BETTER--guides visitors throughout the Hancock County Scenic By-ways through an interactive website and smartphone application found at www.gulfcoastscenicbyways.com. WLOX-TV’s Michelle Lady is the tour guide featured on the videos.
The second campaign is geared to attract visitors to become primary and secondary home owners.
In the new interactive website www.hancockmsmyhome.com, prospective homeowners will find all of the information they need to relocate, including home listings from participating realtors. When they view the site they will learn that when they make the decision to relocate to Hancock County their life will simply--Just Get Better.
The theme from these two campaigns was the theme for the two-day FAM Tour: your meal just got better, your sleep just got better, your tour, just got better.
Myrna Green, manager of the Hancock Tourism Development Bureau, said the FAM Tour is a great partnership with the Chamber to showcase the tourism attractiveness of the west end of the Coast. She also said that visitors will have an incentive to visit when the popular Magnolia Money program launches again later this year.
The local planning committee has been working for months to orchestrate a seamless tour for the State Tourism Sales Team, Williams said.
The tour group was housed at the Bay Town Inn and the Carroll House Bed and Breakfast. The tour started with lunch at 200 North Beach Restaurant. Following lunch, the group took the scenic route along Beach Boulevard to tour Buccaneer State Park to view the new water features and camp sites.
Later traveled to the Silver Slipper to learn more about the new hotel under development. A tour of the new Ground Zero Museum gave FAM tour participants a reminder about how far the Coast has come from rebuilding following Katrina. Next it was off to the Coast Inn to view Barnacle Bill’s and the newly-renovated hotel rooms.
The tour continued to Hollywood Casino to find out more about another new water feature, the Lazy River, and the spectacular meetings and conventions facilities and golf amenities the hotel and casino has to offer guests.
Then it was off to 100 Men Hall, the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre, the Mardi Gras Museum and the Alice Moseley Museum for a taste of art and culture found in America’s Coolest Small Town in the South. The tour concluded with a networking event at The Blind Tiger and dinner at Trapani’s.
On Thursday, the planning team met in a business session with the State Tourism Office to discuss how the local industry can tap into the myriad of resources at the State to drive business to the Coast.
Following the meeting, a tour of INFINITY showcased the wonders of ocean, earth and space exploration. Then it was off to Diamondhead for a tour of the golf, tennis and meetings facilities found in this resort community and Hancock County’s newest city. A drive-by tour of the Kiln Arena and McLeod Park provided the FAM tour group with a glimpse of the eco-tourism opportunities that abound throughout the Scenic By-ways to Space.
After lunch at Dempsey’s Restaurant, the FAM concluded with a tour of Mississippi’s First Brewery, Lazy Magnolia.
Chris Chapman, bureau manager for the State Tourism Division of the MS Development Authority, said bringing the entire sales team to the FAM was an important marketing strategy for the Coast. These tourism professionals work the national and international marketplaces to market the state to meetings, conventions, tour and travel groups, and travel writers. They also market the state’s outdoor, agri-tourism, golf and sports resources.
“Experiencing the travel product first-hand puts our team in a better position to sell the State of Mississippi and the Coast to potential buyers,” she said.