BETH CARRIERE, THE NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE MS GULF COAST CONVENTION CENTER AND VISITORS BUREAU

Beth Carriere is a South Mississippi girl from head to toe. She was born in Biloxi and raised in Jackson County. She worked and resided in Gulfport for awhile, then moved to Hancock County and continued working there. Beth enjoyed a very successful twelve year run with the investment firm of Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith Inc and the Merrill Lynch Life Agency which lead to opportunities in the the Tourism industry. She has been married to her husband, Phil Carriere, for 31 years. They have four grown children and nine grandchildren.
Beth graduated from St. Martin High School and attended the Perk campus (short for Perkinston) of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. She holds degrees from both Perk and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). Beth would monitor operations for the Merrill Lynch Life Agency, covering a fourteen state region and the District of Columbia. When MLLA reorganized their regions to 3 Districts, it necessitated a transfer to Dallas, Texas. Beth chose to remain in South Mississippi and took some time off to stay home with her children.
When a position with the Harrison County Tourism Commission became available in 1991, she applied and was hired as the Convention Sales Director for the Bureau. When encouraged to apply for the Executive Director position for a brand new CVB created in Hancock County in 1996, Beth applied again and was hired immediately. Here it is, fifteen years later and Beth Carriere is back in Harrison County serving as the Executive Director. She is delighted with her new job. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau is the largest CVB in the entire state. Beth said, “I am having too much fun to call it work…although it is a tremendous amount of work… I LOVE IT!” She presides over 9 commissioners, fifteen full time employees, and six or so part time employees. “My staff is wonderful! Everyone is so professional and are very motivated…everyone does their very best. The 9 member Board of Commissioners have been a joy to work with. They are so devoted to the success of this Bureau and the Tourism Industry of the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Beth said.
Mrs. Carriere has been at the helm of the Convention Center and Visitors Bureau a mere 3 1/2 months and she has already made some major changes and stepped up the facility in a very big way. “We now have our web site available in 25 languages! We have also contracted with the PR/Communications firm of Nicholas & Lence Communications Inc. of New York City. International markets are being developed which will move us into a stronger position among our regional and national works,” she said. Beth Carriere expects to be operating at “full throttle” by mid December. The onset of a Sports Marketing and Sales Department, coupled with Carriere’s new leadership will bring a whole new focus for the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast. She continued,”We have negotiated a M.O.U (Memorandum Of Understanding) partnership with the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau officially to handle their advertising and marketing through our new focus of ‘One Gulf Coast’ destination/product. In addition, a few promotion opportunities have happened that include all three coastal counties!”
Banner Ad space will be sold on the Bureau’s web site. Over one million visits to the site have been recorded to date. Go to http://www.gulfcoast.org to check it out. A big push is aimed at booking more and larger conventions and exhibits. There is 400,000 square feet of space to fill in the Convention Center. Beth and her staff are hard at work, doing everything they can to attract more business minded guests to come here for meetings, shows, conferences and conventions.
Tourism is thriving on the Gulf Coast. Once again this area is a testament to growth and strength, regardless of the hard economic times and the disasters that have plagued us. Carriere reports that new Casino Resorts are under construction and others are planned and on the drawing board. New hotels and motels are on the horizon as we look forward to the grand opening of the Infinity Science Center and the brand new Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in 2012. The Pascagoula River Basin is the only uninterrupted and pristine natural state river basin in the United States. It is also a huge draw for tourists and visitors.
Beth Carriere is very modest about her professional accomplishments, however there are many. She credits the people she has worked with over the years, the wonderful staffs and Board members that have made everything possible. Carriere has held every office including the President of the Mississippi Tourism Association. She is currently the incoming Chair of SouthCoast USA. She is an officer and sits on the Board of Directors for NASA’s Infinity Science Center, Cruisin’ the Coast, and many other trade oriented groups. “I get to work in THE best industry, in THE best destination in the world. Life is and has always been very good to me,” she said.
The “romantic charm” of the Gulf Coast sets this area apart according to Carriere. “I feel that the success of our attractions/amenities and activities comes from the romantic charm of this destination. The friendliness of our people ranks at the top in every visitor profile study. I hope to see continued growth and productivity on the Gulf Coast, while maintaining our ecology and sense of place.”

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