Summer Tourism Season Underway

Thousands of holiday tourists are busy checking in at coast hotels, trying their luck at the casinos and visiting the beach this weekend.

But the slowdown in the national economy has some tourism types, a little concerned about the prospects for a busy summer season. However, many are still predicting a profitable summer, and looking forward to the annual boost in business, that kicks off on Memorial Day weekend.

It's not something tourism leaders are losing sleep over, but it is a legitimate worry. Tourism leaders say the economic slowdown could indeed impact vacation budgets. The high price of gas presents another concern. But most tourism types are also confident the coast can do quite well this summer.

The Palace Casino Resort is bracing for a busy weekend. This year's start of the summer season brings concerns about the economy. But the coast may be somewhat insulated.

"You have to remember we're a regional destination and that may be to our advantage for folks that may not be traveling as far out have an opportunity to take a shorter trip and end up on the Gulf Coast," Palace Casino Manager Keith Crosby said.

The director of Beauvoir agrees with that assessment. The historic Jefferson Davis site has been attracting near record numbers of visitors the past two years. And projections for this summer are promising.

"I think we all worry about the economy. But I think the Gulf Coast is an inexpensive alternative to a lot of other things that people might otherwise do. So, I think we'll hold our own, if not do even better than some regions of the country," Beauvoir Director Bob Hawkins said.

Not all regions can brag about 26 miles of beach.

The Cormier family made the trip the Mississippi Coast from their hometown near Monroe, Louisiana.

"I like it a lot. It's fun. It's real cool. It's neat. And then the beach, that is my thing," said Dana Cormier.

Whether it's cooling off at the water's edge, playing in the sand, or enjoying a game of volleyball, the beach remains a highlight for many summer visitors.

Elaine Cormier says it's the perfect spot to getaway.

"It's relaxing. It gets you away from the telephone and everything. It's just like a dose of medicine."