BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Visiting travel writers are enjoying a healthy dose of Southern hospitality on the Mississippi Gulf Coast this week. They are attending the Society of American Travel Writers convention in Biloxi. More importantly, they're getting a close-up look at what the coast tourism industry has to offer.
Since they've been eating and enjoying gulf coast seafood all week one group of travel writers spent the afternoon learning where those tasty shrimp and crabs are caught. An excursion aboard the Biloxi Shrimping Trip provided all the answers.
"Water temperature is very important," boat captain Steve Casey told his visitors, "When it warms up, they grow. When it cools down, they go."
Casey pulled in the net and gave these visiting writers a close-up look at wild caught shrimp.
Marlene Greer is a California girl now living in North Carolina. Has she eaten some seafood this week?
"Are you kidding? Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Who would have thought I'd have shrimp for breakfast?"
More than a few of these visitors have tried shrimp and grits this week. Part of the boat trip gave them a "sniff" of how fresh shrimp are supposed to smell. And fresh seafood is only part of the tourist attractions here.
"The casino hotels here are a lot nicer than in most places. They're a little more mom and pop and individual," said Larry Olmsted, a visiting writer from Vermont, "Then you've got the beach, you've got the golf, you got the seafood and you've got the fishing. That's a pretty strong combination that you don't have in a lot of other places."
These visiting travel writers are expected to generate plenty of positive publicity for the tourism industry. They'll share their experiences here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with the readers of magazine articles, newspaper stories and online blogs.
"I enjoy the climate. I enjoy the beaches. I was blown away by the Frank Gehry designed museum over there. I had no idea that was there. That was a real surprise," said Larry Bleiberg, from Birmingham, Alabama.
"The gulf, the water, the blue sky. It's just lovely, it really is," said Julie Hatfield from Massachusetts, "It just turned cold in Boston. I don't want to go home."
The convention wraps up Friday at Beau Rivage.