Tourism leaders say conventions key to long term oil recovery - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Tourism leaders say conventions key to long term oil recovery

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A recent ABC News poll says 70 percent of Gulf Coast residents worry the oil leak's negative impact on tourism will be long term. Tourism leaders believe to make it through this crisis, the coast needs to sell itself to people ready to take vacations now and those making future plans. They said that landing large scale conventions and meetings may determine how long the economic fallout lasts.

Coast casino leaders say summer is their busiest time of year. So along with sending out packets about special deals, Beau Rivage is letting customers know what is actually going on with the oil on Mississippi.

"I think the biggest obstacle right now for tourism is the perception problem," said Mary Cracchiolo-Spain, Beau Rivage spokesperson. "I think people all over the nation and in our primary markets are not sure what's happening down here and are not sure if we're covered in oil or not."

This month's convention of more than 20 lieutenant governors could help improve the perception. Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant said the event won't be all work and no play, as several outings are planned to show off what our area has to offer.

"We want them to go back to Wisconsin and Minnesota and Maryland and say, 'You've got to go the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It's beautiful. The hospitality is great. It's the best people in the world, wonderful seafood,'" Lt. Gov. Bryant said. "I think it will generate additional business."

Tourism leaders say the coast can't afford to wait until after the oil is gone to market to convention organizers because those types of plans aren't made overnight.

Harrison County Tourism Commission Director Richard Forester said, "The major part of our business is conventions and meetings. That's two, three, four, five years out. We definitely have a concern about that. I have been doing everything we can to address that in a very up front and credible way with all of our clients and with all of our meeting folks that we deal with."

The National Lieutenant Governors Association will meet July 27 to July 30.

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