Yazoo County CVB earns top honor

By THE YAZOO HERALD,
Once again the Yazoo County Convention & Visitors Bureau has been recognized for excellence.
The Yazoo County CVB earned the CVB of the Year award for its budget category this week at the 2017 Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Jackson Convention Complex.
The awards ceremony, present by the Mississippi  Tourism Association and the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division showcased the best and brightest tourism organizations, staff members, volunteers and projects from across Mississippi.
 Yazoo County Convention & Visitors Bureau received the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Year award for the $500,000 to $749,000 budget category. This is the first year that Yazoo County CVB has been eligible to compete in this category, and the first CVB of the Year win since the last time the CVB was nominated in 2014.
During the award criteria period, May 1, 2016 – May 30, 2017, Yazoo County CVB helped to sponsor or promote over 30 events in Yazoo County. Those events helped to bring many people to Yazoo County to eat, stay, and shop. The CVB's advertising and marketing efforts garnered a large amount of coverage of Yazoo County's tourism assets in publications including Southern Living, Mississippi Magazine, Delta Magazine, Matador Network, Only In Mississippi, American Routes, Southern Travel & Lifestyle Magazine, American Blues Scene, Associated Press, and others.
Nearly $15 million was spent in Yazoo County in fiscal year 2016 by tourists and travelers. The 2017 numbers are on track to surpass that.
Some of the accomplishments which led to the win for the CVB include:
• Celebrated Yazoo County's bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and his appearance on the United States Postal Service Forever Stamp commemorating Mississippi's Bicentennial unveiled in March 2017, helping to solidify Yazoo County's place as one of the most significant blues stops statewide.
• Created and promoted an itinerary for visitors to take advantage of year-round called their “Ten Can't-Miss” list which facilitated many travel blog posts. The list led to Yazoo County being hailed as one of the “coolest small towns” and one of the “coolest counties” in Mississippi by Matador Network and Only In Your State in November of 2016.
• Increased promotions of Yazoo County as a stop for blues enthusiasts leading to huge increases in web traffic on the CVB website's Blues, Art, and Culture page. Visits to the page increased (nearly 2,300 percent from 242 the previous year to 5,782 from May 1, 16 – May 31, 17.
• Brought in web traffic from May 1, 16 – May 31, 16 to www.visityazoo.org of 47,369 Visitors, 59,231 Visits, and Page Views of nearly 100,000.
• Received a 2016 Readers' Choice Award from Convention South placing Yazoo County CVB in the top 250 meeting sites and destinations in the South.
• Continued to increase their social media presence: Visit Yazoo on Facebook likes increased organically by 16 percent from May 1, 16 to May 31, 17.
• Continued their internship/scholarship program for graduating high school seniors in 2016, an effort to educate high school students in Yazoo County on the importance of tourism to the economy of the area, and to encourage them to consider Tourism Management as a profession.
• Assisted area tourism partners with branding and social media including one-on-one social media tutoring, with the goal to some day have all Yazoo County tourism partners active on social media.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Shanitra Finley and her 19 years of tourism experience, the Yazoo County CVB has worked tirelessly to refresh the image of Yazoo County with their “Visit Yazoo” campaign. This campaign features Yazoo County's unique festivals and annual events including the Bentonia Blues Festival, Jerry Clower Festival, Antique Days, and the new annual event Yaz Summer Blast, as well as highlighting Yazoo County's unique history, delicious food, “Unique, Boutique & Thrifty” shopping opportunities, and continues telling the story of Yazoo County as “Colorful, Authentic, and Unique...just like you!”
The Yazoo County CVB also continues to sponsor events and projects throughout Yazoo County. Without the help of the CVB's Tourism Grant program and the Event Sponsorship program, many of these events would not exist today, including: Jerry Clower Festival, Bentonia Blues Festival, Gospel Explosion, Antique Days, Yaz Summer Blast, Yazoo Day, and many more. These events are helping to show prospective visitors that there is always something to do in Yazoo County.  The CVB also continues to host various groups to their region, touring the historic sites and cemeteries, blues trail stops, museum, and more.  Yazoo County CVB continues to work hard to promote its community and its tourism product, while attracting travelers from around the state and around the world to “Visit Yazoo.”
For more information about the Yazoo County CVB,  visit www.visityazoo.org or call 662-746-1815.