National Ad Campaign Will Sell Mississippi Coast

A new advertising campaign urges people to escape to Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

"We were looking for some way to get a national message out there," said tourism director Steve Richer. "Obviously, we can't afford to be in every market. And up comes this idea where you pay per inquiry. And you run on cable channels that are frequently watched."

So starting next week, the tourism commission will run ads on the Food Network, the History Channel, and the Discovery Channel. Harrison County is paying $160,000 for the national exposure.

Floyd Blackwell could be a spokesman in the commercials. On Wednesday, the St. Louis man was at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, videotaping the redfish he and his sons caught in the Gulf.

"It took everything I had in me to pull that in," the proud father said.

The deep sea fishing adventure was one of the activities that lured the St. Louis family to Biloxi.

"Good fishing," he said with a smile. "Great shopping. Great weather. Wonderful people. Great hospitality."

Just before the charter boat Baja 31 unloaded its catch, the Sailfish unloaded its shrimping trip passengers. The activity around the harbor gave the area an American melting pot feel to it. People were there from Missouri, New York, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin.

Susan Cohen was from Madison, Wisconsin. "We wanted to be somewhere on the ocean," she said. "And when we looked up areas near there, we saw the shrimping tour. So we came to Biloxi."

The coast may have found a way to hook more tourists. Tuesday night, Virginia Eleuterius and the Gulf Coast Attractions Association saw the 30 and 60 second tourism commercials that will air on national cable channels.

"Amazing. Amazing," Eleuterius said. "The potential is so great. We can do so much with it."

Floyd Blackwell learned that while the St. Louis man reeled in a fish tale he'd never forget.