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Mississippi Mardi Gras Tour Brings Travel Writers to Gulf Coast

By Rhonda Miller | Published 20 Feb 2012 10:41pm | comments
Writers on a familiarization tour of the Mississippi Gulf Coast stop at the Biloxi Visitors Center. Mississippi Mardi Gras is a highlight of the tour.

It’s Fat Tuesday and the Mississippi Gulf Coast will be alive with parades and thousands of revelers lining the streets. In the crowd are travel writers from across the United States and Canada, and as MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports, tourism officials hope these writers will help fatten the state’s bank account.

"Lighthouse tour. Y'all want to do the lighthouse tour?"

Taryn Sammons with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau is showing  a group of 26 travel writers how the Gulf Coast celebrates Mardi Gras. It’s a $17 million business for the three coastal counties and Sammons hopes the writers will help lure even more visitors.

"A real story with real pictures that someone has come to take, using their own time, goes a lot more than what we can place in an ad. So it's really great to have them come here and experience.  A lot of them have never been here before. It’s great to show them how we celebrate Mardi Gras. How we do things around here."

At the Biloxi Visitors Center, the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold are everywhere.

If the writers have some wild idea about  Mardi Gras, the center’s Yvette Mulcahy is there to tell them Biloxi has the Mississippi version.

"We have over a hundred floats and but it’s very nicely one. It isn’t rambunctious, you know, it’s a party. It's a festive time, but something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have your mother or your children at, you know."

A highlight of the writers’ tour is they ride in a Mardi Gras float and toss beads.

(So are you going to ride in the float?) "Yes I am. I’m a little nervous about it."

That’s Julie Catalano from San Antonio, who writes print and online destination guides for meeting planners.  She’s discovered a new topic on this tour.

"The African-American history. We stopped at the first African-American seminary. And then and we saw the wonderful Hundred Men D.B.A. That was amazingly interesting."

That’s the One Hundred Members' Debating Benevolent Association, a center of social life and music in Bay Saint Louis that’s now on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Tourism officials say one visit could mean additional trips to other parts of the state.  Last year, according to the Mississippi Development Authority, visitors throughout the Magnolia State spent six billion dollars.

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Writers on a familiarization tour of the Mississippi Gulf Coast stop at the Biloxi Visitors Center. Mississippi Mardi Gras is a highlight of the tour.


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