July 4th Holiday Week Energizing Tourism on the Mississippi Gulf CoastBy Rhonda Miller | Published 02 Jul 2012 06:42pm |
With July 4th coming mid-week, Mississippi tourism leaders are hoping two weekends of vacationers will energize the lackluster season. MPB’s Rhonda Miller found lots of out-of-state visitors in town for the holiday.
"Two kids, our parents left us…"
T. Woodard is on vacation and he’s going to have fun every step of the way. He’s really getting adult tickets for himself and his girlfriend for the Ship Island Excursion from Gulfport Harbor Monday. He’s from Birmingham and is on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for three days.
“What have you done so far?” “Rode on jet skis, did a little gambling last night. Now I’m going on the boat cruise and going to the other side of the beach, trying to see if I can see some dolphins.”
Tourism leaders often look to Ship Island Excursions to take the pulse of the season, because the boat ride attracts visitors of all ages. Capt. Louis Skrmetta says he’s getting 500 people a day this season.
"It’s probably above average, to be honest with you. People are coming back. The reconstruction is done, the roads are finished, there’s new hotels everywhere, you’ve got these new casinos that have popped up. We’re doing well this summer. Very pleased."
"Y'all been with us before? Nice day out there, we saw plenty of dolphins."
Toby and Renee Hudnell drove 11 hours from Mineral Wells, Texas. They were on the Gulf Coast just before Hurricane Katrina and Renee says they wanted to bring their youngest son.
"He was the little twinkle in our eyes, so we wanted to bring him back to Ship Island and Biloxi. "
That twinkle is now 7-year-old Brendan.
“Brendan what do you think about going on the boat? “It will be pretty cool.” “What do you think you’re gonna do on the boat?” “I’m probably gonna eat snacks. I’m going to look outside. Gonna watch the dolphins.”
While the coast is bustling this holiday week, hotels have been about 65 percent full from January through May, according to the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association. That’s up slightly over last year. July is traditionally the busiest tourism month on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
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