Online sweepstakes luring visitors to Hancock County

By Al Showers - bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock County Tourism Bureau has turned up the heat on its marketing efforts in an attempt to draw more summer tourists to Hancock County. The bureau has launched an Internet based sweepstakes designed to promote what the county has to offer tourists.

Before Katrina, more than 60 percent of the customers who shopped in Old Town Bay St. Louis came from Louisiana. Post Katrina the number of shoppers down, and about half of the out of town visitors are gone.

"We need that infusion from out of the area coming to see us. We really need that infusion back from our weekenders from mainly South Louisiana. We're ready to have our old visitors and some new ones come back to us," shop owner Pam Collins said.

The Hancock County Tourism Bureau hopes to lure some of those folks to the area with an online contest.

Beth Carriere is the Executive Director of the Hancock County Tourism Bureau.

"The goal is to get people to browse through that website to learn about us and what's going on here and what a wonderful destination that it is," Carriere said.

The campaign targets tourists who live within a 100 miles of Hancock County with a heavy focus on Louisiana. And it uses both traditional and non traditional advertising.

"We have 85 taxi cabs in the central business district of New Orleans and the French Quarter, 24/7, driving around with a topper with the same message: Go to to win."

Those who enter the sweepstakes will learn about Hancock County shops, restaurants, and activities. And Carriere believes there's another benefit.

"We'll build a database of visitors that are interested in both the sweepstakes and Mississippi's West Coast, and stay in touch with them through an e-news letter in months and years to come."

The grand prize winner will win a stay at the Trust Bed and Breakfast Inn in Bay St. Louis before heading on a five day Carnival Cruise to the Caribbean. The winner of the sweepstakes will be announced July first.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.