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Cruisin’ the Coast First Event to Get Money from BP-Funded Tourism Group

By Rhonda Miller | Published 03 Oct 2011 11:07pm | comments
Cruisin' the Coast draws about 5,000 classic cars.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast has a new tourism organization that’s in charge of spending $16 million from BP.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports one of the first events to get a chunk of the cash is Cruisin’ the Coast.

'" '72 Delta Royale convertible. Blue and white." "A ’34 Ford. Red." "My brother-in-law came over and brought a 1972 Nova that he restored from the frame up."

That’s Celine Mueller from Chicago, Linda Reynolds from Tuscaloosa and Linda Rose from Houston.  They’re with spouses and friends spending the week at Cruisin' the Coast, a combination block party and classic car show that runs through Sunday.

It’s one of the first three events to get a grant from the new Mississippi Gulf Coast Tourism Partnership.

Cruisin’ the Coast Executive Director Woody Bailey says the $190,000 grant boosted advertising and the level of entertainment, with groups like the Platters and the Temptations performing Thursday.

"With those advertising dollars, we’re going outside the market, to bring people in on that Thursday, thereby filling up room nights earlier in the week. We have a lot of people on the weekends. We don’t really need additional activities on the weekends," Bailey said.

The week-long event brings in about $15 million to the state. That’s the kind of news the tourism partnership likes to hear. The group was launched in April with $16 million from BP.  Rich Westfall is on board of directors for the tourism group.

"I think this truly gives us a chance to pull our area together as one destination and really promote it with one voice," Westfall says.

Of the $16 million, the tourism group has spent $2.5 million, so far. That’s been for advertising and for grants to The Mississippi Gulf Coast Golf Association and The Southern Kingfish Association, in addition to Cruisin’ the Coast.  The BP funding is for three years and the tourism partnership  expects to award grants to a variety of organizations during that time.  

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Cruisin' the Coast draws about 5,000 classic cars.


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