John Mladinich receives tourism award - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

John Mladinich receives tourism award

Tuesday, John Mladinich was recognized for his many achievements in helping attract visitors to the MS Gulf Coast. Tuesday, John Mladinich was recognized for his many achievements in helping attract visitors to the MS Gulf Coast.
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

He's been a prominent figure in the coast tourism industry for several decades. And on Tuesday, John Mladinich was recognized for his many achievements in helping attract visitors to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Mr. Mladinich was certainly a tourism force back in the day when Biloxi was known as "America's Riviera."

"Beginning in 1950, the Mladinich family opened the Fiesta," said Louis Skrmetta, as he prepared to present the tourism award.

He then scanned a long list of tourism businesses owned and accomplishments achieved by John Mladinich.

Accepting the Don Jacobs Award for Lifetime Achievement, the son of Croation immigrants reflected on his mother working in the seafood factories.

"When that whistle blowed, they knew what factory it was. They knew where the hell to go. They all got up to go pick shrimp or whatever. But they knew the tone of the whistles in them canneries," said Mladinich.

While the seafood industry meant early opportunity, it was the tourism industry where Mr. Mladinich left a lasting mark.

"I think he's very forward as far as thinking goes and planning. He's very exacting. But the most important thing of all, he gets it done," said J.B. Richmond, a childhood friend of Mladinich.

His accomplishments in the tourism industry are numerous and significant.

"Getting the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum and Convention Center off the ground. He had vision. He was one of the people that made that happen. And you can see what we have there today because of him and people like him," said tourism and advertising executive Reed Guice.

John Mladinich was also instrumental in helping get dockside gambling approved. And though he may have slowed down a bit, his latest project is reviving the iconic White Pillars restaurant.

"Getting down there and working with it and seeing the improvements and making some changes we had to make. But we feel like it's going to be another winner," said Mladinich.

Given his successful tourism track record, it would be unwise to bet against that.

The tourism award is named in honor of Don Jacobs, another tourism pioneer, who operated Marine Life, the Biloxi Shrimp Tour Train and Six Gun Junction. Mr. Jacobs passed away one year ago.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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