Rising Gas Prices Putting The Pinch On Local Business

Could higher gas prices put a pinch on South Mississippi's tourism industry? For people like Corrie and Virginia Eleuterius the answer is yes.

The couple operates Sailfish Shrimp Tours. They say a few cents difference in operating costs can mean a big difference to their bottom line.

"This is the 50th year of the Sailfish as a tourist attraction. We're the 2nd oldest attraction on the coast open to the public," Virginia Eleuterius said.

For the past 12 years Virginia and Corrie Eleuterius have kept the Sailfish on course, entertaining and educating passengers on the life of the Gulf Coast Shrimper.

It's a job they both love doing but one where financial survival depends on many uncertain factors.

"In the last couple of weeks we've lost several days due to the squalls that run through here," Corrie Eleuterius said.

Fuel cost is another factor that of late has become uncertain.

"Since the fuel has gotten completely out of hand next year we my have to go up on our prices a dollar to compensate for the fuel costs," he said.

On the positive side Eleuterius says he's seen a five to eight percent increase in tourist since last year.

Folks like the Peters from Lincoln Nebraska say even with a price increase, a trip like this is well worth it.

"It's vastly different from the central part of the Midwest where the trees haven't even budded and there's still snow on the ground in some places," said Nebraska resident Pete Peters.

Rising operating costs will likely remain a make a break factor for Eleuterius. But he says at least mother nature still provides a spectacular show for this customers that remains free of charge.

Eleuterius currently charges 12 dollars for adults and 8 dollars for children, and books tours seven days a week and 10 months a year.