Research Study Says Family Tourism Is Dropping - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/21/02

Research Study Says Family Tourism Is Dropping

According to the findings done by the PLOG research group, a third of the visitors came to the coast specifically to gamble. Their average age was 55. And one out of three guests were retired.

Those three findings may be why just 15 percent of the people surveyed had children with them.

If the Williams' sent their children a postcard from Biloxi, a picture of the lighthouse would be on one side, and the following message would be scribbled on the back of it.

"We just got here," Richard Williams said. "We couldn't ask for better, sunshine and blue skies."

For some reason, that message isn't getting through to younger families. New tourism research says just 15% of the summer vacationers brought kids under the age of 21 to South Mississippi's beaches.

Betsy Grant runs the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for children. She said, "That says to me that we're not doing a good enough job marketing to folks that we are a family destination for a vacation."

Grant said if families make up just 15% of the summer tourists, museums and arcades need to work harder to get families down here. "So we have to do a better job of getting the little secrets out," she said, "so that people will know that this is a great place to bring their families."

August Taconi is the head of the Gulf Coast Attractions Association. He believes getting families back to the beach is important. But, it hasn't been a top priority at his meetings.

"We've talked overall about just promoting the area as a destination and promoting all of our attractions," Taconi said, "other than just the gaming part of it."

The Fauschs' like to gamble. "But I never hit in Atlantic City like I hit here," Mrs. Fausch said. "We'll be back."

And when she comes back, the kids may be with her.

"We'll bring our grandkids if they want to. But I know we'll come back," she said, "since I won."

The family vacation findings came from surveys done in July, August and September. They were down one percent from an identical survey done last summer. So you know, the report was done at six casinos, Beauvoir, Edgewater Mall, Prime Outlet and the airport. The Harrison County Tourism Commission is paying for the three year study.

by Brad Kessie

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