Visit Mississippi Gulf CoastBILOXI, Miss. - Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast has been awarded 2015 Tourism Achievement Award by the Mississippi Tourism Association. Executive Director Renee Areng, Commissioner Richard Chenoweth, Director of Marketing Karen Conner and Wholesale/International Sales Manager Annette Rand accepted the award on behalf of the organization at the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism in Vicksburg on Tuesday.

The Tourism Achievement Award recognizes an organization or individual that has supported Mississippi tourism through implementation of innovative programs and has contributed to the advancement of the tourism industry in the state.

On the win, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast Executive Director Renee Areng said, "We could not be more pleased to be recognized by Mississippi Tourism Association as the Tourism Achievement of the Year! Establishing the three-coast marketing organization and erecting wayfinding signage across the Coast were huge strides in the last year. We appreciate everyone that helped with this achievement!"

The vote by Jackson County residents to raise the county-wide nightly occupancy tax by 2 percent helped secure this win for the region and the organization. The vote also secured three Board of Commissioners positions to ensure Jackson County was represented in the organization's efforts.

Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast was also honored with the Coastal Region 2015 Mississippi Research-in-Action Award. The organization was recognized for its on-going research, which has played a pivotal role in planning and the 2020 vision initiative.

The envisioned future of the organization includes becoming a Premier Destination by 2020. To achieve this status, the organization plans to increase annual visitation from 5 million in 2012 to 7 million annually, transform the current $1.6 billion annual tourism spend into $2.3 billion, and create roughly 10,000 new tourism jobs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.


Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast is an organization charged with promoting South Mississippi as a tourism and convention destination worldwide. Its 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.