National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), an annual recognition of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, spotlights the Power of Travel and its collective strength and impact on economic recovery.
Celebrated May 2 – May 8, 2021, this year’s theme the Power of Travel highlights tourism’s role in restoring the economy, rebuilding the nation’s workforce, and reviving 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,” Frank James, Hattiesburg Tourism Commission chair, said.
In 2019, national travel generated an impressive $2.6 trillion in annual economic output, supporting more than 17 million American jobs. At the same time, Mississippi’s travel industry experienced a record-breaking year, with $6.7 billion in visitor spending from more than 25 million visitors.
The pandemic created steep declines in travel everywhere, with Mississippi finishing 2020 with $5.65 billion in visitor spending and 21 million visitors. In Greater Hattiesburg, visitors yielded an all-time high of $300 million in 2019, falling in 2020 to $257 million.
While the travel industry experienced year-over-year losses as a whole, Mississippi fared better than every other state in post-pandemic recovery, according to U.S. Travel Association. As one of Mississippi’s top destinations, Hattiesburg strategically marketed its tourism offerings through a Safely Open for You campaign. Working with tourism partners, Hattiesburg experienced less visitor spending losses than most other destinations.
During the last year, partners worked closely with VisitHBURG to implement best practices in safety, cleanliness, and enhanced guest communication, which were critical to 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,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHBURG, said.
On Wednesday, VisitHBURG hosted an appreciation event at the Historic Train Depot for tourism partners throughout Greater Hattiesburg. On Thursday and Friday, hotel partners will be officially recognized at their individual properties for their dedication and resilience during the last year.
Celebrated annually the first full week in May, NTTW was created by Congress in 1983 to underscore the economic power of travel in the U.S. The 38th NTTW arrives at an opportune moment to recognize the importance of post-pandemic travel on the recovery of the U.S. economy.
For more information on National Travel and Tourism Week or planning a trip to Hattiesburg, follow VisitHATTIESBURG online at VisitHBURG.org, on Facebook (@VisitHBURG), Twitter or Instagram (@VisitHBURG), or sign up for the organization’s weekly newsletter.