Digital First: Visit Hattiesburg discusses state flag removal impact on tourism

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Visit Hattiesburg said tourism is at the epicenter of Mississippi’s economy. After Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill to remove the former state flag, the organization believes the state has the potential to grow its economic development in the fiscal years to come.

According to Visit Hattiesburg, Mississippi had its best year in the state’s history from a visitor’s perspective in 2019. The state hosted more than 24 and half million visitors, which is a record number for Mississippi’s tourism economy. The visitors spent more than $6.7 billion in the state.

Last week, lawmakers passed a bill for tourism recovery in the sum of $15 million. The bill is aimed to recoup a lot of the loss Mississippi saw due to the coronavirus pandemic. And with the state flag change on top of the recovery money, Marlo Dorsey with Visit Hattiesburg said the state could be on the rise.

“While it is certainly a passionate issue, it’s something that people feel very strongly about on both sides. I can personally attest having been in economic development and tourism for several years that we have seen negative benefits because of what the flag means and instills in other people outside of Mississippi,” Dorsey explained.

Leaders with Visit Hattiesburg said by changing the perception of Mississippi, the state could take a step forward to building a better future.

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