Harley Blowout Equals Economic Boost

One look around the coast this weekend, and you see bike after bike at the annual All Harley Blowout. You have to get out the calculator and realize that each bike has an owner who's in town for the Memorial Day Weekend and spending money. Coast businesses do realize this and say it's a weekend they look forward to each year.

Perry DeBacco is a bar owner near the Gulfport Dragway where the event is held and says, "Business for me has been great it's been non-stop go since Thursday."

Hiren Mehta owns and operates a hotel on Canal Road and says, "It helps us a lot every long weekend, Memorial Day long weekend they come."

It's an event that's an economic shot in the arm right before the coast's biggest tourism season. And, as the coast's tourism industry knows a pre economic boost isn't such a bad thing.

Misty Velasquez is with the Harrison County Tourism Commission and says, "The people that come for this event, they're eating in restaurants, they're shopping, they're out having fun in other ways too like entertaining in our local casinos, or seeing shows, so yes it does help the Gulf Coast."

Perry DeBacco says, "We look forward to this every year, every year; the vendors do good here, we do good, the bar maids do good, we have a lot of fun."

Meanwhile, Hiren Mehta says, "This is the best thing for us."

Because so many people do come to the Coast for this annual blowout, it seems that it's the best thing to give businesses a jump start on the summer tourism season and provide the coast with an event that not only entertains but has folks spending a lot of money.

Misty Velasquez says, "There was an estimate made by the police, and I've heard from other sources of approximately 20,000 people here, and based on D.K. Shifflett's '99 study that would mean about $6 million in revenue for the Mississippi Gulf Coast."