BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - What will it take to make the Mississippi Gulf Coast a "tier one" tourist destination?
That will be among the issues discussed at the upcoming Governor's Conference on Tourism which begins in Biloxi this weekend.
Tourists board the Sail Fish at the small craft harbor for the "Biloxi shrimping trip" late Wednesday morning.
The marine attraction enjoyed a decent summer season and will continue offering cruises through the first week of December.
Owner, Michael Moore, has some definite ideas for taking tourism to that next level.
"Branding the community. Branding the whole gulf coast. That's what it's about. We need to let the world know we're here. We need to start advertising more than the drive in community. I think we need to be going seven, 800 miles away," said Moore.
"We've had a tremendous response. We are so pleased with the tourists that are coming in," said Robin Krohn David, the director of the Biloxi Maritime and Seafood Industry museum.
That new museum has been open just a few weeks.
The director is anxious to show off this new attraction during the upcoming tourism conference. She too has ideas about boosting the industry.
"We need more attractions. I think we need to keep the people here longer. We need to get back to pre-Katrina when they were staying here two and three nights," she said.
Lynn Meadows Discovery Center enjoyed a 10 percent increase in visitors this summer. The Gulfport children's museum hosted 30,000 visitors.
Its director credits marketing and says that's also the key to becoming a "tier one tourist destination".
"I think advertising of course is a big issue. We were one of the recipients of the BP grant money and so we were able to advertise outside of our local area this time and I think that's one reason we were able to draw so many people into the museum this summer," said executive director, Cindy DeFrances.
The Governor's Conference on Tourism begins this Sunday at Beau Rivage casino resort. The convention wraps up on Tuesday afternoon.