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Coast tourism groups working on agreement for regional organization

MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST — Leaders of various tourism-related interests on the Mississippi Gulf Coast say they are making progress toward an agreement on a single regional tourism marketing organization.

No formal agreement was reached during a meeting last Friday in Biloxi as tourism leaders considered various proposals to create a regional “Destination Marketing Organization” for three Gulf counties. But the officials did narrow the list of proposals to those put forth by the Gulf Coast Business Council and the Harrison County Tourism Commission.

Work will continue this week.

There is general agreement that there should be a 15-member board, with nine members from Harrison County and three each from Jackson and Hancock counties.

“This is serious business. And however we end up resolving, however we move forward will have a significant positive or significant detrimental effect on our ability to succeed as a region in the future,” said John Hairston, of the Gulf Coast Business Council.

The tourism commission wants its commissioners a part of any new group.

“Going through Katrina, going through many other adversities, the oil, the downturn in the economy, the fight to get gaming. This organization has been tested,” said Tourism Commission Chairman Rip Daniels.

Kim Savant, president of the Harrison County Supervisors, called the most recent of meeting of officials and was moderator. Among those eligible to vote for a plan were each of the nine Harrison County Tourism Commissioners and a board member each from the Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association, Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association Gulf Coast Chapter, Mississippi Coast Golf Association, Mississippi Coast Sports Commission, Mississippi Gaming Association, Mississippi Coast Attractions Association and Gulf Coast Business Council.

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