Tourism leader impressed with visitor numbers - - The News for South Mississippi

Tourism leader impressed with visitor numbers


By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, there has been a legitimate fear that it would kill tourism in our region. However, some numbers released by the Harrison County Tourism Commission are surprising and encouraging.

"It is really kind of odd. Our May occupancy figures have come in and they were good, hotel and motel occupancy," Commission Director Richard Forester said.  

As executive director of the Harrison County Tourism Commission, it is Forester's job to make sure tourists come to South Mississippi. Despite the massive oil spill, it looks like they still are doing exactly that. Not only are the May numbers impressive, but preliminary estimates for June, also look pretty good.

Now, the hope is, that will continue. But right now, that is the great unknown.

"We don't know about July, don't know about August. A lot of it will be determined by how much oil comes up on the beaches," Forester said.

He added that his commission has spent its entire advertising budget on trying to get the message out that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is open for business.

The money the Harrison County Tourism Commission has spent is separate from the $15 million BP gave the state to spend. How that is spent is being determined by the Mississippi Development Authority. About 11 of the $15 million remains to be spent before the end of the year.

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