Whether it's the Blues Trail or the B. B. King Museum in the Delta, members of Mississippi's tourism industry say the state's vibrant culture and attractions draws millions every year. According to the Mississippi Tourism Association, for every $1 spent on advertising and marketing, the state receives a $12.93 return. Executive Director Rochelle Hicks.
"We want to get across the point that tourism is the fourth largest industry in the State of Mississippi and we brought over 22 million visitors last year in 2015, to the State of Mississippi, which resulted in over $6 billion in revenue to the state," said Hicks.
Interim Director of Visit Mississippi, Daron Willson, says his agency is part of the Mississippi Development Authority, and receives about $4.9 million annually. He says the agency had to make cuts like many others due to a shortfall in revenue projections.
"It diminishes our ability to reach out and advertise or promote the assets of the state a little bit. But, were doing the best we can with the resources that we have, and we're trying to make the best of it," said Wilson.
Another issue facing the tourism industry is the state flag. As lawmakers take up the issue of the confederate symbol on the flag, Hicks says it could be an issue for some potential tourists.
"I think that some people have issues with the flag and others don't. But I think that it's definitely an issue that our state is going to have to address. But, as far as our association, we haven't really taken a stand on the flag," said Hicks.
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves addressed the group saying, the challenge is finding solutions to attract first time visitors to the state.