By Julia Miller
Mississippi’s beaches have long attracted tourists to the area, but with a new face at the helm of the Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, the tourism office is looking to grow its reach.
“The Mississippi Gulf Coast offers an incredibly vast array of things to see and do,” said Milton Segarra, the new CEO of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. “The region’s temperate climate, along with its astounding natural beauty, makes for the perfect year-round destination, and there is always something exciting and new to experience.”
Segarra brings with him more than 30 years of experience in hospitality and destination marketing and management, with hotel and casino experience at Hyatt Hotels, Sands Hotels & Casinos and Hilton Hotels and Resorts. His experience in governmental organizations include the position of executive director of The Puerto Rico Tourism Company, as well as secretary of commerce and economic development. He spent over four years as CEO of Meet Puerto Rico, the destination marketing organization responsible for promoting unique group and convention experiences in Puerto Rico, before moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in January.
Segarra said his team is starting by making sure that they maximize and provide continuity to several ongoing initiatives. He said the community can expect changes in our business model, brand, and new and enhanced strategic partnerships. He has committed himself and Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast to a collaborative approach involving all industry partners and the local government.
“I am from Puerto Rico, and was living there when I was contacted regarding the opportunity to work with Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast,” he said. “I visited the region twice before making the decision to move permanently with my family. From the moment I arrived, I felt extremely comfortable and welcomed, which is largely due to the incredibly warm and hospitable people I encountered. This initial sentiment, combined with the vast array of activities, attractions and experiences that the area has to offer, made the move to the Mississippi Gulf Coast an easy decision to make.”
And though Segarra’s decision to move was easy, he realizes his initial effort needs to focus on becoming an expert in the region’s culture.
“First and foremost, truly understanding the culture and inner workings of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is not a challenge, but a priority of mine,” he said. “I am determined to influence and adjust this region’s path and its outcomes in the tourism industry, and create the necessary disruption that will ultimately lead to growth and increased economic impact.”
The culture may take longer to understand, but he has already identified the unique qualities of Mississippi’s coast. From outdoor activities, such as kayaking, boating, fishing, birding and hiking, to world-class gaming and 62 miles of shoreline, the area offers something for everyone.
“Visitors can discover the true essence of the Mississippi Coast life at our unique attractions and museums, and dine at truly local eateries, from quaint coastal seafood spots, to fine dining establishments,” he said. “Each of our 12 coastal communities has something different to offer: from our harbor towns and beautiful, walkable downtown areas shaded with live oaks, to world-renowned shows and casino headliner entertainment.”
Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast’s mission centers on attracting ever-increasing numbers of leisure, convention, sports and business visitors to the area. It is dedicated to maximizing the travel and tourism industry for South Mississippi. For more information, visit gulfcoast.org to learn more.
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