SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - At the Gulf Hills Hotel, the service bell has been chiming but not as much as employees would like. This weekend could change that. Dee Thone is the Executive Manager.
"Business has been a little bit slow, but it's been picking up. We expect to be full this weekend for the Labor Day weekend," Thone said.
Meanwhile, at the Bayview Gourmet, a lot of eggs have been cracked and cooked this summer, but it could be better. A big Labor Day will mean full tables for kitchen manager Maria Nelson.
"It's been steady. We've had our slow times because of school starting, but now that everybody is back in school, it's starting to pick up again. This weekend is going to be very nice. We're going to stay standing room only, people waiting at the door," Nelson said.
At the Premium Outlets in Gulfport, the weekend is highly anticipated for Marketing Director Rhonda Roberts.
"Labor Day is usually the close-out of the summer, so that's a strong weekend for us. People come out for the clearance sales and the fall items to wrap up some back to school items that they might not have taken care of," Roberts explained.
At Sharkheads, the story is the same; good but not great, but owner J.J. Pierotich pictures a steady weekend.
"The spring was real slow with the cold weather, but after the first week of June, our business picked up. We had a very good July, and we're hoping to have a wonderful weekend coming up for Labor Day," said Pierotich.
Of course, the Mississippi Gulf Coast got hit by the triple whammy of bad news; Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the recession of 2008 and the BP oil spill in 2010. Right now, there seems to be a real feeling of optimism, a feeling that things are finally starting to turn around, according to Roberts.
"I think we are seeing tourism come back. We're seeing a lot of the attractions, people still coming for the casinos. I think we're really doing a lot of work towards tourism and a lot of progress," said Roberts.
Those who work in tourism hope that progress continues beyond the weekend.
Even though the summer is just about over, big tourism events are not. Next month, Cruisin' the Coast rolls into South Mississippi, bringing thousands of antique car enthusiasts to town for a weeklong visit.