GYA Regatta sets sail in Bay St. Louis

By Al Showers - bio | email

BAY ST LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Some are already checking their sails and making practice runs.

But when these sailors are not on the water, locals hope they're on land spending money.

Basil Kennedy with the Gulf Yachting Association said, "The people that come, they spend money in the community. They go to the casinos. They eat in the restaurants. They shop at the shops. They stay in the hotels, and they spend a lot of money when they are here."

More than 100 boats from Houston, Texas, to St. Petersburg, Florida, are expected.

"It's not only one person per boat. In many instances, there are three or more people per boat, and then they bring their families along with them," Kennedy said.

Judy Reeves is the Gulf Yachting Association Commodore.

"If our visitors don't eat with us, they are going to be eating in town. And if they eat with us, they're still eating in town because we're buying goods in town," said Reeves.

Tourism leaders estimate each visitor will spend on average $200 dollars per day.

Vice Commodore of the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club Chris Trapani said, "The economic impact of the GYA opening regatta here in Bay St. Louis is a six figure impact."

"We want them to see we're not debris anymore," Reeves said.

Tourism leaders say that in itself will go a long way.

Executive Directorof the Hancock County Tourism Bureau Beth Carriere said, "Anytime you can get a group of people to come in and experience Mississippi's West Coast, and then go home to their various states and cities and share that information, word of mouth has always proven to be one of the better ways to market an area."

The hope is they like what they see and make a return visit. The two day event wraps up Sunday evening.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.