Kim Terrell

DeSoto County Tourism Executive Director Kim Terrell displayed the award won as the Destination Marketing Organization of the Year by the Mississippi Tourism Association meeting in Columbus Sept. 24. It is the fifth time in 17 years that DeSoto County Tourism has been recognized.

DeSoto County Tourism has been selected as The Destination Marketing Organization of the Year by the Mississippi Tourism Association. 

The award was presented at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Columbus on Sept. 24.

In receiving the Mississippi Tourism Association award, the integrated advertising campaign highlighting DeSoto County Tourism’s “South of the Ordinary” messaging was cited for its impact on growing hotel offerings in DeSoto County, driving sports-related opportunities and generating tourism tax revenue.

DeSoto County Tourism Executive Director Kim Terrell said DeSoto County Tourism actively promotes the area to potential visitors.

“You have to be active,” Terrell said. “You have to be promoting. The nice thing about this is that the awards applications go to another state, to people who don’t know us, as judges. Someone from the outside looking in is saying, ‘There’s doing things right over there.’”

Terrell said this was the fifth time in the last 17 years for DeSoto County Tourism to be so recognized.

Highlights of the recognition were year-over-year increases in hotel tax revenue for the past nine months and counting, plus year-over-year revenue growth since 2017; eight new hotel properties scheduled for opening in 2019-2020; development of indoor volleyball, tennis, and pickleball courts to accommodate growing demand; 350 percent increase in website users from August 2016; 264 percent increase in organic website traffic; and a 246 percent increase in traffic to visitdesotocounty.com.

The DeSoto County Tourism campaign has been one of the most highly awarded marketing and advertising campaigns in the country – not just for tourism campaigns, but for campaigns across all industries.

In 2019, the campaign won two National Addy Awards, a competition that bestows fewer than 100 awards out of nearly 50,000 entries nationwide. The campaign was also honored with the “Best of Show” trophy – as overall best campaign – at the 2019 Memphis Addy Awards. The campaign took home a total of over 20 Gold Addys.

“When we launched this campaign, our goal was to highlight the many great attractions within DeSoto County and to inform tourists and locals of the unique experience to be had in our area. When you look at the metrics of what we have accomplished, it is clear our goals have been exceeded,” Terrell said. “This kind of recognition from the Mississippi Tourism Association makes those accomplishments even more meaningful to us. We take great pride in being recognized by our tourism peers across the southeastern region.”

DeSoto County Tourism worked in partnership with Sullivan Branding to develop the award-winning campaign. The full-service advertising agency credits the regional destination’s executive leadership and board of directors with having the bold vision to bring this campaign to life.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.