Weather threat could dampen weekend crowds

Weather threat could dampen weekend crowds

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The recent heavy rainfall took a toll on the beach, and the threat of more rain could take a bite out of the tourism industry this holiday weekend.

Hotel bookings are below average for this upcoming four-day weekend. And the recent weather is certainly a factor, including Thursday night's torrential downpours.

Sand beach crews worked around giant puddles left behind by the latest flooding rainfall.  The relentless rains came, even as crews were still cleaning up debris left by Tropical Storm Cindy.

Despite the small lake beside this jet ski vendor, they're still expecting a busy Fourth of July weekend.

"Been raining for the past few weeks, so we haven't been open on some weekdays if it's been raining too hard," said beach vendor, Dylan Middleton, "Yeah, it should be good. Fourth of July is normally the busiest day of the year."

"We're so excited to see the sunshine. The pool is open and kids are enjoying it," said Paula Volz, sales manager for Courtyard Gulfport Beachfront hotel.

The Courtyard by Marriott on the beach still has a few rooms left, and the sales director says, despite the weather, things are looking decent this weekend.

"Hopefully a full house. We love seeing the sun. We're super excited to see the daylight and people are coming down enjoying the gulf."

The executive director of the hotel and lodging association, Linda Hornsby, tells WLOX News Now that bookings for this upcoming holiday weekend are below average right now. And in large part, she blames the recent round of stormy weather across the region, which has left some folks skittish about coming to the coast for a holiday that might get rained out.

Rain didn't stop one North Carolina family from enjoying their getaway weekend.

"Brought my wife from North Carolina, to come down here and see the Gulf Coast. The Gulf of Mexico is down here, so I had to let her see how it smells and see it," said James McDougle, who grew up in Hattiesburg.

He says they'll enjoy the beach, a little sightseeing, and the casinos.

"And go gambling. We're gambling, we're going gambling," he said.

Despite the recent rains, sand beach crews have been working overtime to get the beach in the best shape they can before this holiday weekend. They've been focusing on those sections of beach, most popular with visitors.

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