By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant said he had started his run recently in downtown Jackson when he was stopped by a couple of women from Illinois who asked if he could direct them to the Governor’s Mansion.
“I told them, ‘I think I can help with that,’” Bryant said Wednesday during a bright mid-morning on the steps of the state Capitol where the importance of the tourism industry to the state was touted.
Bryant said he told the women to ask for Deborah, his wife, who would show them around,
“That is the way we treat visitors in Mississippi,” Bryant said, adding everyone must “take the time to say welcome, glad to see you here.”
Bryant, Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Brent Christensen and state Tourism Director Malcom White all highlighted the importance of the industry during Wednesday’s event.
Christensen pointed out tourism is the state’s fourth largest private sector employer, responsible for 83,000 direct jobs and 33,000 indirect jobs. Every dollar invested in tourism generates $6.46. The industry contributes $400 million to the state general fund, Christensen said.
He said more than 21 million people visited Mississippi in 2012 and had an average stay of 2.7 nights.
As part of the ceremony to highlight the importance of tourism to the state, a NauticStar 203 SC Deck Boat manufactured in Amory was given away to the winners of a sweepstakes campaign. People could enter the contest via the Internet.
A Tuscaloosa couple won the boat. White and Christensen joked that the Alabama couple committed to use the boat at Mississippi facilities.
“Mississippi is known for our beautiful outdoor landscapes and abundant opportunities to enjoy our mild year-round weather,” White said.