BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Cruisin' the Coast had a significant impact on our state and local economy from 2011 to 2016. That's according to Bradley Research Group which recently conducted an impact study on the event.
But the car event also leaves a big mark on those who, just last year, traveled from 41 states and two countries to attend.
"Lately, we've been sending people home with sunburns. So we think that's a good thing. We want the word of mouth to get out where people will talk about what's happening on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and have them book the Columbus Day weekend one of their premier events," said Chevis Swetman, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Cruisin' the Coast.
Swetman addressed a crowd of city, county, tourism, and business officials about what he calls the good, positive growth of Cruisin' the Coast. Officials learned that from 2011 to 2016, Cruisin' the Coast's economic impact on our state increased 35 percent.
Over the years, organizers have learned to pay as much attention to the non-local spectator as they do to non-local registrants. Both groups are credited with providing an economic impact in the three coastal counties of $26.1 million last year, up from $19.1 million in 2011.
"We are telling everybody to come book your room on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and enjoy Cruisin' the Coast. So we are reaching to people that may not even own a vehicle," said Cruisin' the Coast Executive Director Woody Bailey.
Greg Bradley with Bradley Research group said they learned non-locals are staying longer and spending more as they enjoy the car show.
"I mentioned the event was very healthy because of the sheer increase from 2011 to 2016. And kind of laid against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, then the financial recession, and then the oil spill. And so we have had to overcome several alliterations of trying times," Bradley explained.
He said in five years, there was a 50 percent increase in visit days from non-locals, which is the main driver of overall spending connected to the event. Cruisin' also created 254 jobs on the coast in 2016 and boosted income by close to $9 million.
According to the Bradley Research Group, a vast majority of attendees are either very satisfied or satisfied with Cruisin'.