Gulf Islands means big bucks for the coast

Image source: National Park Service.
Image source: National Park Service.

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Daniel Martin from New Jersey is packing up after a six day stay at the Davis Bayou campground.  He estimates he spent about $300 during his stay.

"Well, I hit the thrift stores. I hit the Walmart. I went over to Biloxi to the visitors center and bought some nice jewelry for my girlfriend. Went to the seafood festival. It was very nice. And I did a lot of biking all around the area," Martin said.

Evelyn and Curtis Mayne from Florida did the same thing.

"We spend it on groceries and going around the thrift stores and sightseeing and stuff like that. Mostly groceries though," Evelyn explained.

James Andrews has been here for about two months, spending close to $2,000. The campground is a perfect fit for his lifestyle.

"This park right here, I get $11 a night because I'm a disabled veteran. It give me a safe haven. It gives me a good comfortable place to be at every night and affordable," Andrews said.

Of the $39 million in economic impact, a lot of that money is spent inside Gulf Islands National Seashore, either through camping fees, or fees to go out to Ship Island and back on the ferry, or even sales at the visitor's center gift shop.

But a lot of the money is spent outside of the park, and nearby business owners and managers are more than happy about that.

Scott Sherman is the manager of the Rouses Grocery Store.

"It makes us feel great. We're glad they are here on the coast and taking time to shop with us. We appreciate their business," Sherman said.

For some visitors, like Ronald Yawn from Alabama, Davis Bayou and the coast are simply a good buy.

"We do a lot of camping. And we're taking money from our community to bring over here because we're offered more for our money," Yawn said.

Gulf Islands National Seashore also has parks on the Florida panhandle. There, the economic impact is even greater. One hundred sixty million a year spent, with 2,000 jobs created in the panhandle, and more than three million visitors each year.

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