/After rocky period, Mississippi’s largest tourism bureau hires new director

After rocky period, Mississippi’s largest tourism bureau hires new director

Judy Young, who was most recently a marketing manager in a city outside of San Antonio, will assume her new role as Coastal Mississippi’s executive director starting February 1. Young has been in the tourism industry for over 20 years. Young said that he was searching for a dynamic location and that it’s an excellent opportunity. “I have always been a huge travel enthusiast. I love tourism and travel. It is the best education available. It feeds your soul.” Young was vice president of New Braunfels’ visitor’s bureau. She will now be marketing a whole region, not just one city in her new role. Coastal Mississippi is a three-county partnership that includes Hancock, Jackson, and Harrison counties along the Gulf Coast. Brooke Shoultz, president of the Coastal Mississippi Commission board, stated that Judy is an incredibly successful tourism leader who will bring a wealth industry experience and knowledge. “Judy’s leadership will undoubtedly be invaluable to the continued growth of the destination.” In September 2021, the former director of the Gulf Coast bureau Milton Segarra resigned after being criticized for his $225,000 annual salary. Young was appointed by the commissioners. This allowed them to reduce the annual salary of the executive director to $175,000 per annum. READ MORE: Mississippi’s largest tourist board is in danger of collapse Segarra had an earlier rift with the board that oversees the bureau. They voted to not act on a complaint Segarra filed about a comment made by one its members. Following Segarra’s resignation Harrison County leaders found themselves at the center more disconnection and infighting between board members and local leaders. The three-county bureau was in serious trouble. 11 casino executives sent a joint letter asking for a solution. Shoultz issued a statement in the fall stating that all miscommunications were resolved and that they are committed to the regional tourist model. Shoultz stated in October that the commissioners regretted not having met sooner amid months of misinformation, rumors and tension that led to tension and division. Coastal Mississippi is funded through a 2-3% tax on hotel stays in Harrison, Jackson, and Hancock counties. Coastal Mississippi reported that it had $5.2 million in its budget as a result of taxes in a budget report they gave to Harrison County. Harrison County’s casinos resorts and hotels make up the bulk of the tax revenue. Harrison County is the largest voting bloc in the board of commissioners which approves Coastal Mississippi’s spending. Young explained to Mississippi Today that she has experience managing multiple public agencies while running a tourism bureau. Young has been impressed by the passion shown by local leaders and business owners. Young stated that she is excited by the level of engagement. Young stated that it was always difficult to get passion from stakeholders regarding a destination. Young and her husband, a Mississippi native, were house hunting and would be exploring the Coast “all 62 miles”.