JACKSON, MISS – The free 2018 Mississippi Official State Highway Map is available now. Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently unveiled the map’s cover featuring Tishomingo State Park.
“We live in a digital world, and it seems that all of our technological advancements today come in the form of upgraded smartphones, but this map not only guides travelers around the Magnolia State, it promotes one of our scenic state parks,” Tagert said. “Most people are unaware that MDOT distributes 2.5 million copies of the map throughout the Mid-South and most of the lower 48 states.”
Through a partnership with the Mississippi Development Authority and Visit Mississippi, MDOT provides the map in welcome centers across the state and through local city and county chambers, development groups, Main Street Associations and convention and visitors bureaus. One of the map’s highlights is a list of things to do in Mississippi including food, music, museums and bike trails. MDOT works with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) to help promote the state’s parks.
Each year, the map cover features a local tourist attraction or scenic destination from around the state. This year, the cover features the iconic swinging bridge in Tishomingo State Park.
“This swinging bridge is very special to me because my wife and I got married here 40 years ago,” said Greg Collier, Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors president. “We would like to thank MDOT for featuring the swinging bridge in the Tishomingo State Park on this year’s state highway map cover.”
Tishomingo State Park is a public recreation area located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Tishomingo County, about 45 miles northeast of Tupelo. The park’s major feature is Bear Creek Canyon and its sandstone outcroppings. Activities in the park include rock climbing, fishing and hiking. The park sits at Milepost 304 of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a scenic road operated by the U.S. National Park Service commemorating the historic Natchez Trace. The park was voted the most popular outdoor recreation destination in Mississippi last year and is home to 13 miles of walking trails. It offers one thing visitors will not find at most other state parks – a floating canoe tour. The park offers 62 RV campsites, primitive campsite area, six cabins, one cottage and a group camp facility. Reservations can be made by online reservations at www.mdwfp.com or by calling the park at (662) 438-6914.
“This map has the potential to get into a lot of hands and reach many people,” said Jennifer Head, MDWFP director of state parks. “We thrive on tourism. I believe the state park system is one of the best kept secrets in the state, and Tishomingo State Park is truly one of our most beautiful parks.”
Tishomingo County has earned the reputation of being one of the most successful rural counties in the United States. Over the past several years, Tishomingo County has won over 2,000 manufacturing jobs that have brought $307 million into the county.
“Tishomingo County has seen huge industrial growth over the last five years, and over the last 10 years, it has become one of the most popular places for people to retire,” Collier said. “But, just as important, the county has seen a 12 percent growth in tourism over the same period, and the Tishomingo State Park is a big reason for that.”
Tourism is a valuable part of Mississippi’s economic story. Tourism is the fourth largest industry in the state. This past year, over 23 million people visited Mississippi. That represents $6.3 billion going to the state economy and over 86,000 direct jobs.
“This map is not only designed to promote northeast Mississippi, but also the entire state,” Tagert said. Tourism plays such a huge role in our state economy, and this map helps tourists get to the destinations that interest them.”
The map is an invaluable resource for visitors to the state and provides an opportunity to highlight the different regions of Mississippi. Last year, 2.6 million people engaged with staff at the welcome centers. These visitors actually signed in and requested information from welcome center employees.
“Highways lead visitors to our authentic Mississippi experiences – our attractions, our restaurants and our hotels throughout the state,” said Craig Ray, Visit Mississippi director. “An estimated 95 percent of our 23 million visitors arrive by car, truck, bus – on our roads. We are officially a drive-in state, and this map helps drive and educate our visitors to where they want to go. Visit Mississippi proudly distributes MDOT’s state highway map at our 13 welcome centers around the state.”
Tagert, Collier, Head and Ray all share the same sentiment: Tourism is vital to Mississippi’s economy and the Official State Highway Map is an important tool in boosting tourism throughout the state.
“This map is a team effort to bring people to our state and see for themselves the great state of Mississippi,” Tagert said. “Tourism plays a vital role in our state’s economic well-being, and the state highway map certainly plays a big role in that.”
The 2018 Official State Highway Map is available now. To order a free copy, visit GoMDOT.com/maps.