How local industry is doing during Coastal Crisis - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

How local industry is doing during Coastal Crisis

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Rebecca Powers – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi's tourism is taking a hit from the Coastal Crisis.

A University of Southern Mississippi study released Monday looked at overall losses from the BP oil leak specifically targeting hotels and restaurants.

The study tallied the loss as a $120 Million blow to communities along the Mississippi Coast.

During President Barack Obama's visit to Gulfport he said, "There's still a lot of opportunity for visitors to come down here. A lot of beaches are not yet affected or will not be affected. We want to make sure that people who have travel plans down here to the gulf area remain mindful of that."

The President said he will spread the word to the rest of the country to support our ever important tourism industry. A USM study just released shows the economic impact of the oil spill here to be pretty significant on tourism.

It found that from May to August of 2010 non-casino hotels are down a whopping 50% from this time last year. This down turn would equate to an almost 27-million dollar loss from the same period in 2009. And seafood restaurants report a 30% decrease from this time last year while at the same time, they're paying 30% more for the seafood they serve. That is putting a tremendous strain on them.

Ken Montana said, "As independent restaurateurs, it is devastating what is happening to them."

Montana is the Harrison County Tourism Commission's President. He's also a retired restaurateur.

Ken Montana said, "The worry, the concern for their employees, for their staff and for their own families, they represent a lot of people on this coast."

But Mr. Montana thinks like past tragedies, our tourism industry will survive the oil spill, but it will take a lot of support from the rest of the nation who already seems fond of our region and its people.

"We are friendly, hospitable people down here, and those folks can come back and look them straight in the eye again and visit with them."

The USM study also said the Charter Boat industry took a nosedive. It's already lost 70% of its business. It also found recreational fishing has dropped 90% with impacts on commercial fishing still unknown.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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