The DeSoto Parks & Recreation Department continues to be a leader in attracting tourism to the community. In FY21, the DeSoto Parks & Recreation Department hosted 21 tournaments and three tourism-centered special events in the midst of a pandemic, which yielded an economic impact that exceeded $23 million. During post-event meetings held with several national tournament vendors, the Parks and Recreation Department received several requests to provide a reduced-lodging incentive for hotel stays to assist with event sustainability.
With that goal in mind, the Parks & Recreation Department worked to revive the Executive Tourism Committee Initiative with local hotel management. The inaugural meeting was conducted on October 22, 2022. The major topic outlined the process for hotels to receive reimbursement from the City for reduced room rates for pre-determined tournaments. Mrs. Keisha Carter, Tourism Director, was introduced as the City liaison to administer the process. Mrs. Carter has a Master of Fine Arts in Communication with a minor in Business Administration and has served as an Executive General Manager for the Holiday Inn Express, Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Hyatt, and Sheraton/Westin Brand Hotels. The Tourism Director is responsible for leading the aggressive development and implementation of short-term sales strategies and tactics with the objective of attracting visitors to lodge in the City of DeSoto.
An essential component for the Director of Tourism is to collaborate with local hotels within the City to ensure that room blocks, city sponsorships, and rebates flow smoothly. The ultimate goal is to develop partnerships that result in a multi-year commitment with tournament vendors to return to the City of DeSoto for future events. In prior years, tournament vendors negotiated with hotels directly or tournament participants were responsible for securing their own lodging.