Summer tourism season off to a good start - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Summer tourism season off to a good start

Workers at the Biloxi Visitors Center are expecting more than 1,000 people to come in the doors this weekend. Workers at the Biloxi Visitors Center are expecting more than 1,000 people to come in the doors this weekend.
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Friday begins the unofficial start of the summer tourism season on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Tourism leaders are hoping it's better than the past several years. Katrina, the recession, and the Gulf oil spill chased away would be visitors in droves. But things may be starting to change.

At the Sheraton Four Points, the computer screen says it all.  More than 95 percent of the rooms are booked. 

"The numbers are looking great for the three day, and actually, the shoulder dates are looking really strong, too," Hotel Manager Kenny Glavan said. "I think it's been the perfect scenario with the opening of Margaritaville." 

Workers at the Biloxi Visitors Center are expecting more than 1,000 people to come in the doors this weekend.  What they are looking for bodes well for coast restaurants, according to Beth Poss. 

"The common question: 'Where's a good place to eat local seafood?'" Poss said. "Absolutely, the number one question." 

Walk up business is brisk for the Biloxi Shrimp Tour, according to owner/operator Michael Moore.

"I'm optimistic," Moore said. "I haven't had a chance to talk to everybody else. I've been kind of busy, but that just goes to show we're going to have a good year." 

Guests are treated to some good music and good times, as the tour goes full steam ahead.

Even museums are getting a piece of the tourism action.  Denny Mecham is the Director of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art.   

"We keep very close count on everyone that comes in, whether they are members or paying admission and we're seeing an uptick at every level, an uptick in interest in the studio Ohr programs," Mecham said.   

Industry officials are citing several reasons for the recent turnaround in tourism numbers, but they say one particular program, funded by BP, is the most responsible for that turnaround. 

"We've had a lot of compliments about those wonderful commercials that have been sent across the country," Moore explained. "Everybody comments about that and that's the reason why they decided to come here. So we're getting some good response." 

The BP funded ad campaign highlighting tourism in the central Gulf states will run through the end of summer.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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