New state tourism slogan will be ‘great’ for Vicksburg

Published 11:26 am Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mississippi’s new tourism slogan, Find Your True South, will be “great” for Vicksburg, Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Bill Seratt said Wednesday.

“I think it’s a great positioning statement that can be used in many ways,” Seratt said hours after Mississippi Development Authority director Gray Swoope unveiled the new marketing campaign at the state Capitol in Jackson.

“The South has so much to offer on so many levels,” Seratt said. “It’s perfect timing for everything that’s going on in the state.”

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Swoope said ads and brochures will promote the state’s history, cuisine, casinos, outdoors activities and literary and musical heritage.

Vicksburg and the state are in the early stages of marking the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. In Vicksburg, the focus is on 2013, the 150th anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg.

The Vicksburg National Military Park and the city’s location on the Mississippi River and Interstate 20 between Dallas and Atlanta are good draws for city tourism, Seratt said.

In 2010, the park logged 581,459 visitors, up from 548,105 in 2009.

Seratt said he hopes the statewide branding concept will reach all types of tourists.

“We want every visitor we can get,” he said adding that the VCVB, the agency charged with promoting area attractions, markets in a 300- to 500-mile radius.

James and Cindy LeVert of Alabama stopped in Vicksburg for a day Wednesday on their way to a rodeo in Fort Worth.

“We were looking for some place to stop between Alabama and Fort Worth,” Cindy LeVert said. “My mother has a relative who served in the Civil War and we wanted to stop and see.”

This is the couple’s first trip to the park and to Vicksburg.

“We’ve got Civil War battlefields in Alabama, but nothing like this,” James LeVert said, adding that they might stop again on their way back to Tuscaloosa.

MDA tourism director Mary Beth Wilkerson said Wednesday that extensive research shows tourists perceive Mississippi as “an authentic place,” and many see it as the most Southern state.

Swoope said 19.5 million tourists visited the state last year, spending $5.5 billion. Travel and tourism is the state’s fifth-largest private sector employer.

The research for the branding concept was conducted by North Star Destination Strategies, the same Nashville firm hired for $62,000 by the VCVB in October to reshape the city’s brand.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.