As executive director of VisitHATTIESBURG, Marlo Dorsey is promoting the Hattiesburg community as a destination for tourism and business travel—and the city is experiencing record numbers of visitors from around the United States and the world.
Thanks to tourism efforts and the city’s ever-expanding list of attractions and accommodations, Hattiesburg ranks as the third most visited city in Mississippi. In 2017, 1.8 million visitors came to Hattiesburg, making an economic impact of nearly $278 million within the community.
“From baby boomers to millennials and everyone in between, Hattiesburg has visitors from every region of the United States daily,” says Marlo.
“Hattiesburg is well-established as Mississippi’s Hub City, making it a natural melting pot for creativity and diversity,” she adds. “Hattiesburg attracts adventurers of all types because of its welcoming and artistic vibe. And not only is Hattiesburg home to an award-winning zoo, two military museums, a thriving downtown, and two universities, it also has a bustling live music and craft brewery scene. And it’s full of unique retailers, history, and art.”
Additionally, being home to William Carey University and the University of Southern Mississippi, the city attracts thousands of visitors through sporting events, student recruitment, cultural performances, and other events. “Over the last year,” Marlo adds, “VisitHATTIESBURG has partnered with the universities even more to strategically plan events and bring more people into town.”
The city’s location is also a key factor in bringing in tourists. “Hattiesburg is conveniently located halfway between Dallas and Destin and Houston and Orlando, so we tend to get a lot of traffic from travelers to and from those destinations,” notes Marlo.
Last year, she and her team launched a new regional campaign to market Hattiesburg’s “vibrant live-music and culinary scenes and its first-class accommodations,” she explains. “As a result, we have enjoyed double-digit hotel growth through an increase in overnight travel.”
The success of this marketing campaign then led the VisitHATTIESBURG team to create and promote four uniquely themed tourist itineraries, where visitors can choose a package based on their interests. These include Art & Architecture, Happy-Go-Lucky, Stars & Stripes, and Zoo, Brew & Bites. “Day trips and weekend getaways to Hattiesburg have never been easier,” she adds.
With a professional background in marketing, development, and tourism, Marlo understands the role partnerships play in a community’s success. “Today’s successful communities are those with engaged leaders and citizens that share a clear vision for economic growth and sustainability, along with a commitment to always enhance its quality of life,” she says.
“When we have solid and authentic working relationships with our board members, volunteers, and stakeholders, we all benefit by being able to raise our level of offerings and expertise,” she adds. “This collective and cooperative approach to destination building gives us a competitive advantage as a tourism market.”
Marlo, her husband, and their two children are happy to call Hattiesburg home. “It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am to be a part of the leadership team for the Hattiesburg community,” she notes. “It’s both personally and professionally fulfilling to live and work in a community that has the vision to become a premier city of the
Check out visithburg.org for more information.