Tourist attraction determined to overcome oil spill misfortune

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Owners of a decades old coast tourism business say they are determined to push forward despite hardships caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. One week from Sunday, Ship Island Excursions will wrap up its 2010 season. This year the Skrmetta family says the crisis in the Gulf sent revenues plummeting but the family isn't dwelling on misfortune but instead looking to the future.

Tickets in hand passengers boarded the ferry to Ship Island for a day of fun in the sand before Ship Island Excursions drops it final anchor for the year.

"Business is off two-thirds but I'm hoping for it to pick up next year and I think things will slowly get better," said Capt. Pete Skrmetta.

The Skrmetta family says they're looking to the 2011 tourism season with optimism. After watching the Gulf oil spill eat deep into the profits this year, owners are already fine tuning a new marketing strategy.

"We're doing some advertisement," Capt. Skrmetta said. "A lot of people up north got the wrong idea. They think the oil is four foot deep down here. And we let them know Ship Island beach is beautiful. People swimming every day.

Captain Pete Skrmetta says over the past 74 years the business has seen both good times and bad times, but the family has always been able to overcome the struggles.

"We've been in business since 1926. We never had any accidents. It's a family owned operation,"said Capt. Skrmetta. "A lot of different people try to give us problems but they don't understand that people that own their own business does a 100 percent job than hiring different individuals. We're going to keep on trucking."

Gulfport recently received more than $200,000 in federal money specifically to build a new complex for Ship Island Excursions.

The 2010 season for Ship Island Excursions ends Sunday October 31st.

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