- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Renee Areng, the assistant director of tourism for Visit Baton Rouge, is the new executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Areng is currently executive vice president of sales and marketing at Visit Baton Rouge, where she has worked since 2002. She will join the Gulf Coast team Aug. 1. She will be paid at least $130,000 annually.

Her appointment follows a seven-month search after Beth Carriere resigned in November.

After trying to find a director on its own, the board hired a search firm.

“They did an extensive national search for over 300 contacts” said search committee chairman Rich Westfall. “We narrowed that to a top 10 and went through the resumes and qualifications then the top four were interviewed. The committee recommended the top two to come and visit for interviews before the full board.”

Having been the second in command at the Baton Rouge organization, Westfall said Areng is well positioned to move into her new role.

“She works in a market that competes with us, so she knows our strengths and weaknesses. I think she’ll come in and provide leadership and direction.

“In the long run, we felt that she has the tools and experience to take our destination to the next level,” Westfall said.

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