Mississippi Tourism Officials Seek Bigger Promo Budget

JACKSON, MS (AP) — Mississippi tourism officials are requesting more public money to promote the state in big media markets such as Atlanta and Chicago, hoping the investment will lure travelers to play golf, visit civil-rights landmarks or hear authentic blues music close to its roots.

State tourism director Malcolm White told legislative budget writers Wednesday that Mississippi spends much less than any other Southeastern state on advertising its own attractions.

“We feel like Mississippi has an amazing and great story to tell. And, simply put, we are getting lost in the crowd,” White said.

Mississippi spent $3 million on tourism promotion during the 2014 budget year, which ended June 30. That compares to Florida's spending of $58 million, Alabama's $22 million and Louisiana's $11 million.

Mississippi Development Authority is requesting an additional $5.1 million of taxpayer money for tourism advertising and marketing during the 2016 budget year, which begins next July 1.

That amount would allow the state to advertise in Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis and parts of Texas and Florida, White said. The state tourism office currently is spending $359,000 for TV advertising in Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Birmingham, Alabama.

“We don't currently advertise in Texas or Atlanta because we simply cannot afford to,” White said.

– by AP Reporter Emily Wagster Pettus

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