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Governor signs tourism bill in Biloxi (The Sun Herald)

By Mary Perez, The Sun HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April 17--BILOXI -- The Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau will promote tourism across the three Coast counties starting July 1.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed the legislation Tuesday that changes the Harrison County Tourism Commission's name and includes Jackson and Hancock counties.

The signing almost didn't happen. Bryant's plane circled the Coast for an hour before the weather cleared and he could land in Gulfport. He told about 150 business owners and local elected officials at the Coast Convention Center the area had come too far to let a little wind and fog stop him from signing the bill South Mississippi.

He said the Coast is an "amazing, exotic place the world needs to come and see."

Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, sponsor of House Bill 1716, said this legislation lets the three counties put aside competitiveness and work together.

Names are already being tossed around for seats on the board, said Harrison County Supervisor Windy Swetman. Harrison County will appoint nine to the 15-member board as the largest tourism market and contributor. Jackson and Hancock counties will each appoint three and several tourism promotion agencies from the casinos, hotels, restaurants and attractions will each have representatives on an advisory board.

"A lot of people are lobbying for positions," Swetman said. He expects to see some from the current board at the table. "You don't want to do away with all that experience and knowledge."

"In Jackson County, we're excited about the possibilities of this new tourism group," Supervisor Mike Mangum said. "We think that there's going to be some great things coming out of this."

Waveland Mayor David Garcia said Hancock County brings Infinity Science Center and great beaches to the tourism mix and said he hopes to see a pedestrian parkway all the way across South Mississippi.


(c)2013 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)

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