Local businesses worried about oil spill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Local businesses worried about oil spill

By Jessica Bowman – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Beautiful weather is on tap for this weekend but is the potential oil slick keeping tourists from vacationing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast? That is the question several people are asking, but right now still no answers, just worries.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast thrives during tourism season. Whether it is long time vacationers or those just down for the weekend. We spoke with people at two local businesses who say if the oil does reach the Mississippi shoreline the coast economy could take drastic downfall.

Edgewater Inn employee Pam Goldsack said this is normally the busiest time of year for the hotel, but she said that's not any type of assurance guests will be booking rooms.

"I had a gentlemen call and wanted to know he had a reservation and wanted to know if should come down or not," said Pam Goldsack. "All I could tell him as far as I knew the oil was not here just come on down."

Goldsack said she has received several other phone calls just like this one in the past week and believes cancellations from tourists will start replacing the usual reservations. But, if the oil spill does reach our shores, she is still hopeful.

"If it does come in, then hopefully we'll get workers that come in, and they're going to need a place to stay. So you know that will help. It's not the same as having the tourists here, but it will help," says Pam Goldsack.

Big Play Family Fun Center has an ocean and nautical theme miniature golf course along with other amenities such as a full service snack bar and arcade.

Owner, Brandon Wooldridge, says the doors to his business opened just this week and as final touches are being completed his mind is filled with uncertainty.

Wooldridge said, "If the oil does hit and we lose dramatic market share and our tourism industry, then it could have a devastating effect on us like everyone else."

Wooldridge said economically he has many doubts about the summer months upon us and the potential threat of oil reaching the coastal shoreline, but he remains optimistic.

"Hopefully there is a demand for our product, and we'll still be okay. I know locals and tourists alike are looking for things to do so I hope we can still fit in that niche market and still be successful," says Brandon Wooldridge.

Both businesses said, for now, all they can do is wait and see.

Big Play Family Fun Center has not had its grand opening yet. Wooldridge says that event is planned for May 20th at 6pm.

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