Doug's Blog: Thanks, Jimmy, for an unforgettable concert - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Doug's Blog: Thanks, Jimmy, for an unforgettable concert

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Last week, Jimmy Buffett played a free concert in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and it was a breath of fresh air. And a major shot in the arm for the tourism industry in L. A. (Lower Alabama) in the wake of the BP oil spill. 

I had a chance to interview Mr. Margaritaville himself. No major ground was broken during my time with Jimmy, and no exclusives came out of the process. But I came away genuinely impressed with the man and his mission. He only wanted to talk about one thing and that was the concert. And what that concert meant to the coast. 

Here's what happened. Jimmy told me that if there's one thing he's good at, it's drawing a crowd. How does at least 25,000 people sound, maybe even more. That was the official estimate, but it could have been 35,000. And what did that sea of humanity next to the sea do? They enjoyed the music of course, but they also spent money, a lot of money. 

Four beach side hotels that were normally at 30% occupancy for the summer were totally sold out. I interviewed several people involved in the tourism industry. They all said this past weekend was the best of the year. 

Business has been crushed by the oil spill in the Gulf, but for one weekend at least, everything was like it was in the past, crowded streets, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and condos.  Jimmy made everyone forget their troubles, and the oil spill for at least a few hours. He accomplished his mission. 

In fact, the free concert was so successful, city leaders in Gulf Shores are thinking of using millions of dollars in BP grant money to host more concerts during the summer. Those plans are still being finalized. 

But here's a thought to ponder. Our tourism industry on the Mississippi coast is hurting badly as well. Why not pursue something similar here? We have the beaches, and we have the room to host such a concert. We just have to be bold in our thinking, and set high goals for our community. It can be done. Jimmy proved that in Gulf Shores. And the national publicity given to the concert by having it air live on CMT is publicity money can't buy. 

Let's give it a shot here.

Thanks again, Jimmy!

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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