Tourism Turnaround

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Memorial Day weekend proved to be a rough start for South Mississippi's summer tourism season, but things are looking much different for the  upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

"It really does help that people are on their summer vacations," said Karen Potter with Edgewater Inn.

Potter says the hotel is almost sold out ahead of the upcoming holiday weekend, much different than the occupancy rate during the last few holiday weekends.

"We were down," said Potter. "We were struggling a little bit and I don't know if we totally sold out."

According to Smith Travel, tourism is down 20 percent nationwide.

"The hotel industry like everyone else is suffering from the economic downturn," said Bob Bennett.

Bennett is the president of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association.

He's also the owner of the Edgewater Inn.

"The slow of tourists across the state has just slowed down dramatically," said Bennett.

Bennett says while gas prices and layoffs are partly the blame, there are a few other reasons why tourism in South Mississippi's is suffering.

"Last year you had more workers down here and still some insurance people that kind of took up the slack," said Bennett.

However, with the fourth of July weekend just days away, many hotels are near capacity and that has business owners optimistic about the rest of the tourism season.

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