Whether they played at a casino, or they went sightseeing, visitors during the first quarter of 2001 had a good time. According to PLOG Research Analyst Mark Brown, "People who visit your destination love your destination."
Brown represents California based research firm. The Harrison County Tourism Commission hired PLOG to do a three year research study about South Mississippi tourism. The first three months of the study were just released. "Virtually everyone says yes, my expectations were met," said Brown. "And in fact, most said they were completely met."
PLOG surveyed 450 January, February and March visitors. Based on the research, 40% of the tourists came from a 250 mile area that included New Orleans, Mobile, Pensacola, Tampa and Atlanta. About 69% spent at least one night at a coast hotel. And 81% said gambling was either their primary or their secondary reason for the trip.
Steve Rosen was at the research briefing. The casino executive and tourism commissioner talked about the findings. "Even though their primary visit is for gambling," Rosen said, "they're only doing it for about four hours. So these people are here for an average of two days. There is a lot of room to fill. And a lot of events and things that they can go to."
Because the survey was done during the winter, none of the tourists said they came here to play on the beach. And just 5% of the people said they brought children to the coast. That's a number a Pass Christian chamber member at the briefing said was way too low. According to Steve Dick, "We're missing a segment of the population as far as visitors to the coast. We're missing families, weekends, holidays."
PLOG expects the beach numbers to pick up after it does its second and third quarter research.
The Harrison County Tourism Commission is paying PLOG Research $266,000 for the three year study. The information will be used as a guide to help tourism leaders attract new visitors.