Tourism leaders worry holiday beach trash turning off visitors

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The fifth of July always means a big cleanup job on the beach. It takes days to clear the party, picnic and fireworks debris from 26 miles of sand. Tourism leaders worry each day it's there leaves a bad impression for our visitors.

The heavy rain forced volunteers for Clean Our Scene to end the beach cleanup sooner than they'd hoped. They were very disappointed since there was plenty to pick up.

Bridgette Varone of the Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership said, "It is amazing the trash that is on the beach and in the grass and in the parking bays. Everything from shoes and clothes to fireworks obviously and bottles."

Varone is also director of Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association Gulf Coast Chapter. She said tourism industry leaders are concerned about how visitors react to these large post holiday messes.

"We ran into a couple from Texas who were absolutely shocked at what they found this morning whenever they got up for their stroll along the beach," Varone said. "It really just shows how important our look is to visitors. We ask them to come and spend their vacation dollars with us on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we want them to be able to enjoy the beach whenever they do come so they'll come back."

This year for the first time, Harrison County partnered with Waste Pro to put out dumpsters to encourage more people to pick up after themselves. Unfortunately, the Sand Beach director says the dumpsters were barely used.

"We do applaud Harrison County for making more of an effort with Waste Pro to put the trash receptacles along the beach," said Varone. "If everybody who came down to have a really great time on the fourth, if they could also come back with a trash bags and some gloves and help pick up, that would be great."

Harrison County Sand Beach crews cleaned from Oak Street to White Avenue on Friday and will spend Saturday cleaning around 20th Avenue in Gulfport.

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