Jimmy Buffett draws tourists, dollars to Gulf Shores - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jimmy Buffett draws tourists, dollars to Gulf Shores

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULF SHORES, AL (WLOX) - One day after Jimmy Buffett gave a free concert in front of 25,000 people in Gulf Shores, Alabama, merchants in the city are all wearing big smiles. For at least one weekend, tourists came to Gulf Shores like they did before the oil spill in the Gulf began back in April.

"The concert really helped our business," said Eddie Spence, owner of The Steamer restaurant. "All of our restaurants here in town were up significantly yesterday, and Saturday and Friday as well. 

The oil spill has hurt the city's economy badly.  Oil skimmers can be seen from the beaches, and there are other signs of the spill as well. But with 25,000 people in town for the concert, it was hard not to do well.  

Marie Curren is a property manager in Gulf Shores.

"We own 19 different properties and four of them are within walking distance of the site, and all four of those were at 100 percent occupancy for the weekend," Curren said. 

One of those who stayed at the Phoenix West was Rip Prichard. He wasn't about to miss the weekend trip to Margaritaville. 

"My grandson came down from Kentucky, so we always bring him to the beach every year when he comes down," Prichard said. "And with the Jimmy Buffett concert being here, my son and girlfriend wanted to come as well. So we all came down to enjoy the beach."  

While most business owners are happy with the one day shot of business brought in by the Buffett concert, they're looking at the big picture.  What happens in the future in the city of Gulf Shores?

Tina Royster is a souvenir shop manager. 

"The national advertisement that has been given and all the publicity, it will draw more people here to come and see the beaches and the other things that we have to offer down here."

And businesses in the city are hoping that what they have to offer will continue to draw tourists, even without Jimmy Buffett in town. 

Meanwhile, what went up last week to host the Buffett concert had to come down Monday. Millions of dollars worth of equipment, lighting, and stages had to be broken down and packed up, and then shipped to Buffett's next concert location. But a new one could be going up soon.  There is talk of bringing in other big name entertainers to Gulf Shores for more concerts during the summer months.   But those plans have not been finalized yet.

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