GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With only a few days until the start of the long Fourth of July weekend, tourism leaders are in the middle of an all out push to fill up as many hotel rooms as possible. Officials said there are still a lot of vacancies. They're trying to get the word out that there are plenty of rooms available.
Tourism leaders said they always like to see as few hotels with vacancy signs as possible. That's especially true for the coming Fourth of July because of the added potential for tourism dollars.
"It's not on a weekend. It's on a Thursday," said Linda Hornsby of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association. "That could have equated and still could to a four day weekend. That remains to be seen."
"I would say for the night of Fourth Of July we are showing about a dozen hotels that don't have any availability," Hornsby said. "On Wednesday and Friday night that goes to about half dozen."
Tourism leaders hope to fill more rooms by encouraging people to celebrate Independence Day on the Gulf Coast.
Tourism Director Beth Carriere said, "Let them know there's still room. Come on down. Weather's great. Water's fine. Come celebrate America's holiday and this year it's going to be a long one."
To get that message out, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau has turned to social media.
"We'll send out e-blast to our database. We'll go on Facebook and Twitter and all the other places we're connected with as far as the internet goes on our website," said Carriere. "We're developing what will probably go out tomorrow, press releases on the availability. That will go out through the region. Not just the Mississippi region, but it will go out through the Southeastern part of the United States."
Tourism leaders said they're also optimistic that people will show up without making hotel reservations.
Hornsby said, "We're seeing that more and more. We would like it to be further out but we're working on that. And we expect many more will fill up from same day arrivals. because they know that the rooms are available."