Cruisin' Revs Up Major Bucks

Almost 54 hundred car enthusiasts signed up for last year's big car party in October, even though most of the week was a wash out.

Greg Bradley, the Vice President of Research at Gulfport's Decision Scientific says, "We believe that better weather conditions would have yielded even better attendance and higher levels of total expenditures and as a consequence the economic impact would have even been greater."

Still, the Crusin' the Coast committee says a $13 million impact speaks for itself.  And the committee is counting on factors that weren't measured in the study conducted by Decision Scientific, such as word of mouth advertising.

"We know that new participants are likely to return to their perspective homes to report positively to their friends and relatives about both the event and other attractions on the Coast," Bradley says.

Bradley's research found that people who partied at Crusin' last year were repeat visitors.

"This is their primary vacation of the year so they do stay sometimes as long as nine, ten days."

Cruisin' was created to extend the tourist season until the end of the year.

"We always call it our sound months, September, October, November and December, and this was our first attempt to start filling those gaps. We have plenty of people come visit us during the good ole summer months but in the sound months we needed to fill this gap," says Cruisin' Committee Chairman Chevis Swetman.

Cruisin has done that now for nine years. What started small in 1996 with just 374 cars has become one of the Coast's most eagerly awaited events.

The economic impact to the state from last year's Crusin' adds up to $15 million. For its survey, Decision Scientific questioned more than 1300 people, both those who signed up for Cruisin, and those who didn't participate.

The study found that 78% of Cruisin' participants live outside the three Coast counties.

The Cruisin' committee says it will mail out newsletters in early May for this year's block party.