GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Travelers may pass the Port of Gulfport everyday, but what can be seen from the street is only the tip of the iceberg.
"It's difficult to see it as you're driving back and forth on Hwy 90 just because of the distance away, but now they'll be able to get an up close and personal look at the port," said port director Jonathan Daniels.
Getting up close and personal is exactly what Daniels hopes the Port of Gulfport tours will do.
"They're going to be able to see the diversity that the port's going through right now, and we also try to break things down in to laymen terms. Not a lot of people actually understand what 2 million tons means."
Daniels says the 2 million tons of cargo that move through the port each year is equal to moving 6,700 Boeing 747s. The port director wants tours to function as a window into one of the busiest ports in the region.
But after several years of construction, and what looks like little progress, Daniels says the port has become somewhat of a controversy.
"They've seen dirt moved around, but they haven't really seen much else. They're also talking about the jobs. I think it's very important for them to see firsthand that there has been progress in construction," said Daniels. "And while the full-time jobs that will be here long term aren't in place yet, they will see hundreds of people down on site, even on a Saturday morning."
Besides jobs, the tour gives riders a progress report on things such as the $570 million Coast restoration project. Riders even get a look new business, like McDermott.
"I was awed. Being from Illinois, I've never seen this type of construction," said tourist Linda Goforth.
Linda and her husband both agree that they would recommend the experience to anyone.
"It was so informative, I learned things I didn't realize I was learning and I had no idea how important the port was for the local economy."
The port offers community tours every quarter.