Labor Day weekend looked good for coast tourism industry

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It appears the Labor Day weekend was a good one for the coast tourism industry. WLOX News conducted an informal survey of coast hotels.

We contacted 10 hotels from Ocean Springs to Long Beach to ask about their holiday weekend business.

Sixty percent reported they were sold out the entire weekend. The other 40 percent were sold out at least one night over the extended three day weekend. Tourism leaders were certainly hoping for a boost in numbers over this final holiday weekend of the summer season.

Labor Day weekend is the "unofficial" end to the summer tourism season.  And after a disappointing summer, with hotel occupancy down more than 10 percent this year, tourism leaders were counting on a busy holiday weekend.

"We've had a great weekend," said Kristi Montgomery from Tupelo, as she watched her children and nephew play on the beach near the Biloxi lighthouse.

It's been a full weekend for the extended family. Eight-year-old Braydon said one more thing would have made his visit complete.

"I'm trying, I'm trying to see a shark. I wanna see a shark," he said, looking toward the Gulf waters.

"We went to the water park yesterday. And swam in the pool. And they've been to the visitors center and lighthouse. Wanted to come to the beach today to take pictures," said Montgomery.

We spotted Roy Ferguson taking pictures of his wife and two grandsons. These north Alabama residents drove to the coast for some quality family time this extended weekend.

"We've been cooking. We've been playing with our grandkids and our family. Thought this was a good time to have a family outing. So, this brought us down to Biloxi," Ferguson explained.

His grandsons, four-year-old Colin and three-year-old Noah, enjoyed the sand and water of Biloxi's beach. They built sand castles and spent some time on the water.

"We went kayaking. So that was fun," said their grandmother.

WLOX News took an informal poll of hotels along the coast and the results might surprise you.

Six out of ten hotels, 60 percent, say they were sold out the entire Labor Day weekend. The other 40 percent said they were sold out at least one night over the three day weekend.

Visitors we talked with, said spending Labor Day on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was the perfect end-of-summer getaway.

"Having a great time!" said Roy Ferguson.

You may recall, one year ago on Labor day weekend the coast was still cleaning-up the mess after Hurricane Isaac. So that weekend was disappointing for tourism.

This summer's Fourth of July was rather dismal for tourism because it rained all weekend. So this successful Labor Day weekend is certainly welcome news for the tourism industry.

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