Tourism on Mississippi Gulf Coast Appears to Be Bouncing Back After Difficult YearsBy Rhonda Miller | Published 23 Mar 2012 06:41pm |
Tourism on the Mississippi Gulf Coast appears to be bouncing back after years of lost revenue from Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill and the Mississippi River flooding. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports this could be the summer tourists decide to come back to the Gulf Coast.
"We’ve had three weekends in a row sold out. I expect to be sold out every weekend now through October."
That’s Bob Bennett, owner of the Edgewater Inn, just across from the beach in Biloxi. As president of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, Bennett says he’s glad to see golfers, weddings and family reunions coming back to the Gulf Coast.
"It’s working. In other words, what we’re doing, the tourists we had before are coming back. Our regulars are coming back. You know some people like to go to the same place every year."
Bennett says he and other hotel owners are hoping rooms start filling up during the week.
"The Biloxi Light is an enduring symbol of the Mississippi Gulf Coast…"
At the Biloxi Visitors Center, Terri and John West are the kind of tourists Mississippi is waiting for - they arrived in the middle of the week. John West says they drove down from Wisconsin.
"We stopped in Memphis to have dinner the first night and stayed in Jacksonville...Jackson...then we drove to Hattiesburg, and we stayed all night. We spent the lion’s share of the day yesterday in Hattiesburg at Camp Shelby and the African-American USO museum.
While he’s working at the Biloxi Visitors Center, Butch Henley does his own informal research.
"I was talking to a couple of people the other day from a little town in Oregon, and I just asked them, ‘How did you get to Biloxi?’ ' Well, BP is running commercials nationwide.' And they said, ' We saw the commercial that says come back to the coast, so we decided to come back'. "
Last year, tourists spent $6 billion in Mississippi.
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