Yazoo City native Danielle Morgan is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Tourism Association, the state’s trade association for advocacy for Mississippi’s fourth-largest industry.

She took the role earlier this year and this week presides over the 2021 Fall Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Jackson Convention Complex.

Tourism came “out of left field,” Morgan, a marketer and designer said, when the opportunity to serve as Executive Director of the Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau came about in 2016. She served there for five years.

Morgan, a past MTA board member, said the last eighteen months helped her see that her passion and knowledge for the industry could be a benefit to the leadership of the organization.

“There is a lot of opportunity for tourism in Mississippi, she said, citing the state legislature’s economic investment in tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We got in front of the legislature with education,” Morgan said. “[Our tourism marketing efforts] showed how putting that much focus toward [the industry] could catapult us. It’s great to be number in something good!”

Morgan cites the statistic that Mississippi’s tourism was only down by 22% when most other states felt a 30-40% decrease. 

Additional marketing funding, she said, gave Mississippi an “opportunity to be competitive throughout the region for the first time in the history of tourism in the state.

As MTA’s leader, Morgan’s job is to communicate well with the organization’s members and to keep those members connected. 

“We’ve all started communicating more and sharing best practices and ideas,” she said. “[The pandemic] has united us in a way we have never been before. Working with our partners like the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association and the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, and our counterparts around the Southeast, communicating each other’s issues and advocacy efforts help us work together.”

And, as Jackson restauranteur Jeff Good says, “Working together works.”

“Tourism is economic development,” Morgan said. “I believe it’s a large part of our state’s economic future. Tourism is about creating a place where businesses can live and grow. People want to live in a cool place and work in a cool place, and visitors want to visit a cool place. We have to see all of it working in tandem.”

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