Will gas prices hurt coast tourism?

An announcement that the coast will receive $16 million for promotion, is proof that things are looking up for the coast tourism industry. But awareness is only half the battle, especially if visitors can't afford a trip to South Mississippi.

Gas prices are increasing at steady rate which may effect whether or not people hit the roads this summer.

Gas prices are gravitating to nearly $4 in some areas and with that in mind, some are concerned those prices, will also be a big cost to the tourism industry.

"Traditionally we see increases throughout the summer, so it is very concerning I think, for this summer," said Richard Forester Executive Director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Setbacks like Katrina, the recession, and the infamous oil spill have left the coast's tourism industry, struggling to get back to it's glory days. That's why tourism officials said the last thing the industry needs, is another hindrance.

"We can just hope that because of the oil spill last year and the economy the year before that, we see a decent summer," Forester said.

In the past, promotions like gas cards or free gift cards have been used to attract visitors. This year tourism spots are hoping the prices at the pumps persuade more locals to visit attractions closer to home.

"I think, what we can hope for is, that people who are closer to home who were planning to travel elsewhere perhaps may reconsider those plans and perhaps come here because we are closer," Forester explained

Though gas prices continue to rise, a local business predicts that their summer sales, will be just fine. Take Brandy Moore, owner of Biloxi Fishing Trips, for example. She said gas prices are forcing tourists to consider closer attractions for vacations, could very well be the boost in sales she was looking for.

"With the recession and the oil spill all year, we were really expecting a bad season starting off,but we hit the ground running and it's been fantastic," Moore said.

The Biloxi Fishing trip offers many affordable attractions, some as low as $16. Brandy believes her reasonable prices are just a part of adapting to the ever changing economy.

"The families are the ones that travel. They're the ones coming in, with all the kids and our attractions are very affordable," Moore said.

The cost at the pumps may not decrease anytime soon, but before you cancel your summer vacation, you might want to take a look into the many beautiful and affordable attractions available right here on the coast.

Click here for a listing of vacation spots on the coast.