OXFORD, Miss. – Visit Oxford received the Tourism Office of the Year award at Southeast Tourism Society’s Shining Example Awards held recently in Concord, N.C. during the STS Connections Conference.
The program highlights exemplary work being done in the travel and tourism industry throughout the Southeast with 11 award categories. Visit Oxford took home the award given to the tourism entity based on the overall performance of the organization and accomplishments made through effective tourism marketing.
The award was judged based on efforts between November 2020 and December 31, 2021. During that time, Visit Oxford was able to show how its staff worked to mitigate losses due to declining travel impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the changing regulations of the pandemic, the office of only four full-time employees found creative ways to support the local hospitality industry and economy. According to a media release, at the heart of their efforts was finding health-minded tactics to engage visitors while promoting restaurants, retailers, and hotel partners to local Oxford residents.
“I see the talent each day, so I knew our hard-working staff deserved this recognition, but I was honored that out of such a sizeable 14-state area, our office was recognized as a ‘shining example’ in our trade for what we are doing in Oxford,” says Kinney Ferris, executive director of Visit Oxford.
Using multi-faceted marketing tactics, Visit Oxford saw record growth from out-of-state markets based on website analytics. The team also relied on their social media content to keep locals and visitors aware of everything happening in Oxford. The economic impact of these efforts was seen in total travel and tourism expenditures, as well as taxes collected during 2021. Both were up nearly 19 percent over the same period in 2020 and almost identical to the record-breaking numbers set in 2019.
“Locals rarely see the majority of the work done by the staff at Visit Oxford because the work is all part of a strategically-focused plan to attract potential visitors through various marketing tactics,” says Ferris. “While we do host events through our office, the majority of what we do is promoting and advertising all the wonderful things Oxford has to offer to people outside of our area.”
Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill says, “I am thrilled that others are recognizing what we already know in Oxford—Visit Oxford is the most creative, talented, professional tourism agency in the Southeast. Kinney and her team tell Oxford’s story well, impacting our overall economy and affecting our community positively every day. We are so proud of this accomplishment.”