Biloxi, Miss. - 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 IP Casino Resort and Spa in Biloxi, Miss. on Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2020.

This annual educational and professional development event brought together more than 120 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 200+-member organization. Awards were presented in 15 categories, each focusing on a different aspect of the hospitality industry or individual achievement.

The MTA Tourism Investment Award is presented to those who have built or invested their time, talents and money into a hotel, restaurant, attraction or other tourism-related project. This year’s winner was the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission who was cited for their vision, dedication, support and leadership. Six years ago, Gulfport’s mayor had the vision to create a landmark tourism-based attraction on nine acres overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The Redevelopment Commission first reestablished the site as a mixed-use traditional neighborhood development and then, under the leadership of the City of Gulfport and the Gulfport City Council, proactively secured funding, as well as the land, to make this vision a reality. These efforts resulted in the Mississippi Aquarium, a year-round, state-of the-art, marine life-based source of family entertainment, which opened in August - 15 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi coastline.

Mississippi Aquarium is "an anchor for economic development in and around the downtown Gulfport area." It created nearly 100 full-time jobs, in addition to part-time and volunteer opportunities. Undeterred by COVID-19, the commission worked diligently with aquarium leadership to ensure the project's successful opening. The second-largest city in Mississippi, Gulfport has an economy profoundly based on tourism, which contributes to 27% of the local economy. After Hurricane Katrina transformed the landscape of Coastal Mississippi, there was a need for true revitalization. The Gulfport Redevelopment Commission was instrumental in making sure this investment happened. “These recognitions 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 Kelli Davis, 2020-2021 president of MTA.

For more information on MTA or Mississippi tourism, visit www.mstourism.com or www.visitmissisippi.org.


The Mississippi Tourism Association is an association 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

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