Published on : Friday, May 7, 2021
National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), which is an annual recognition of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, highlights the power of travel and its overall strength and impact on economic recovery.
Celebrated May 2 – May 8, 2021, this year’s theme was the the Power of Travel, upholding tourism’s role in reviving the economy, rebuilding the nation’s workforce, and enlivening communities after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This past year created a multitude of hardships for people and places everywhere, halting our once thriving tourism industry. Hattiesburg hotels, restaurants, attractions, and shops have persevered through an unimaginably difficult year. As travel recovers and rebounds, we are honored to pause and celebrate the courage and dedication of our partners this week,” said Frank James, Hattiesburg Tourism Commission chair.
The pandemic brought in sudden downturn in travel everywhere, with Mississippi finishing 2020 with $5.65 billion in visitor spending and 21 million visitors. In Greater Hattiesburg, visitors fetched an all-time high of $300 million in 2019, which went down to $257 million in 2020.
While the travel industry experienced year-over-year losses as a whole, Mississippi performed better than every other state in post-pandemic recovery, according to U.S. Travel Association. Being one of Mississippi’s best destinations, Hattiesburg tactically marketed its tourism offerings through a Safely Open for You campaign. Working with tourism partners, Hattiesburg experienced less visitor spending losses compared to many other destinations.
Last year, partners worked closely with VisitHBURG to apply best practices in safety, cleanliness, and enhanced guest communication, which proved vital for Hattiesburg’s tourism recovery during the pandemic.
“This week, we officially recognize the immense contribution Hattiesburg’s hospitality industry has on our local economy. Our restaurant, hotel, and tourism attraction employees are among the first people guests meet when visiting our community. It’s a privilege to recognize our hospitality workforce for persevering through COVID-19, as we continue to move forward together through recovery and bring visitors back,” said Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHBURG.
On Wednesday, VisitHBURG held an appreciation event at the Historic Train Depot for tourism partners throughout Greater Hattiesburg. On Thursday and Friday, hotel partners will be officially honored at their individual properties for their commitment and resilience during the last year.
Celebrated annually the first full week in May, NTTW was created by Congress in 1983 to emphasize the economic power of travel in the U.S. This year, the 38th NTTW is expected to propel the importance of post-pandemic travel for improvement of the U.S. economy.