GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A new hotel promotion starts this weekend to lure visitors back to south Mississippi. Participating hotels will offer guests three nights for the price of two. Hotel managers hope this promotion is as successful as the $50 gas card they handed out last summer. That gimmick drove a surprising number of tourists to coast hotels.
The phone rings a lot at the Gulfport Courtyard. General Manager Peter Magee says summer reservations have approached the 90 percent level.
"You know, 2009 has been a very successful year so far," he conceded.
But once the kids go back to school, beach umbrellas will go back in storage, and hotel bookings will drop off. To keep the hotel lobby area busy, the Courtyard, and dozens of other inns will participate in a new tourism promotion.
"It's just a great drive to bring business to the coast," Magee thought.
Radio and TV spots start this weekend in key drive-in markets across the south. They say if you stay at a participating south Mississippi hotel for three nights in July, August and September, you'll only have to pay for two nights.
"This new promotion through the CVB should help our third and fourth quarter bookings. And that's where we're looking right now," the general manager said.
When marketing reps at the Ship Island Excursions dock heard about the hotel promotion, they said sign them up as well. They're now included in the summer program.
Kevin Buckel negotiated the deal to make Ship Island ferry boat tickets available to guests who take advantage of the hotel promotion.
"Put that ticket in their hand as soon as they get to the coast, absolutely, that's something we would definitely want to be a part of," Buckel said.
The thought in tourism circles is that having attractions and hotels both offer discounts will help the late summer promotion make quite a splash.
"Hopefully it's something we can build on," Buckel thought.