Where have all the tourists gone?

Reporter Brad Kessie this past week did a detailed report that questioned, "Where have all the tourists gone?" In this post Katrina world tourism isn't as healthy as it once was on the coast.

Sure you can blame some of it on the current economic slowdown facing our country. You can also blame part of it on all the damage Hurricane Katrina did to our beautiful coast line. However, what are we doing as a community to welcome tourists back to our area?

To us, one finding in a recent tourism study spoke volumes about the condition of this destination. Visitors disliked the Katrina destruction they saw. The water in Biloxi is still littered with broken piers and damaged fishing bridges. The harbor in Gulfport is still empty and Highway 90 is still scarred by overgrown lots.

Would you let a guest into your home if it looked like trash? The answer is no. Then why should we expect anybody to vacation here if parts of the area still look so sloppy? It has us wondering, when are we going to take pride in our community again? When are we going to do our part to clean up Katrina's mess once and for all, and make the coast the warm, inviting place it was before 2005?

We still have a lot to offer. The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center and Gulf Islands water park are both quite fun. A trip to Ship Island and an afternoon of deep sea fishing give us a niche few destinations can offer. We have top rated golf courses, scenic rivers to navigate, and space age technology that let's us explore the universe. And let's not forget the casino resorts.

Yes, we could use some putt putt golf courses, go cart rides, and other similar activities for families. But until we find ways to make sure potential visitors know we've moved on from Katrina, coast tourism will never be like it was before the hurricane .

That's our opinion, we would like to hear yours. Email your thoughts to editorials@wlox.com, or post your comments below.

David Vincent
WLOX-TV Station Manager

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