Tourism Numbers Improving

By Jeff Lawson - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Coast has certainly not been immune to the drop in tourism affecting the entire nation. However, Edgewater Inn owner, Bob Bennett, says things will turn around.

"When you get as old as I am, you have seen a lot of downturns in the economy," Bennett said.

Bennett is a straight talker, who has been in the hotel business here on the coast for 22 years. Just like the rest of the coast hotels and motels, summer business at his place on Biloxi's Highway 90 is down a bit this year, but Labor Day weekend looks pretty good.

"We will be sold out Saturday and Sunday, " Bennett said.

In his more than two decades in this business, Bennett has seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

To get more tourists coming back here, he believes in the old adage, you have to spend money to make money.

"When the economy picks up, we have to be ready and make sure we get our share, which means marketing and advertising."

That's where people like Nicole Learson come in.

"What we are trying to do is be creative in keeping our message out there that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is looking for visitors," Learson said.

As director of marketing for the Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor's Bureau, it is her job to get the word out about what we have to offer. 60 second commercial spots running on national networks like Animal Planet and the Food Network, are doing exactly that. It is intended to grow the market.

That is exactly what Bob Bennett wants to hear. Bennett says, in the last few years, we have become mostly a weekend destination.

"A weekend market is okay, but we need to work toward getting back to a regional destination which is what we want to be."

Bennett's an optimistic kind of a guy. He likes the trends he is seeing in our tourism market right now, and he predicts, better times are ahead.

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