SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Area tourism officials say the next six months look very promising for the Coast.
A beautiful day on the Coast is just what the tourism doctor ordered for Kenny and Susan Warr. They live in Texas, but love visiting South Mississippi. Kenny says it's been something he's been doing for a long time.
Kenny recalled, "When I was a kid, I had a grandmother that lived up in Alabama. We used to come all the way down here Before they had I-10, so we always come through here and I just want to come back here and enjoy it."
That's the kind of news local tourism leaders like to hear as the breeze ushers in the busy summer season. According to Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, hotel occupancy rates increased more than 67 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same time in 2017.
Biloxi councilman Kenny Glavan says the city is adjusting for the growing industry. "We've put a lot of things in place. We're making the climate rite for developers, People are wanting to get out and travel more," he noted.
As hotel occupancy rates are going up, so are two new hotels in Biloxi. The Hilton Garden Inn, which is under construction behind me, and the site which was formerly the Santa Maria Del Mar.
It's new name is the WaterMark. Tourism leaders say these businesses, along with new attractions like the soon to be completed Finish Line Go Kart track, should kick the Coast's economy into a higher gear this summer.
"Getting some more attractions on the beachfront, it helps the face of tourism, absolutely," said Linda Hornsby, Mississippi Hotel-Motel Lodging Association Executive Director.
Kenny Warr agreed, "We like it here. It's quiet, the water's nice, the people are nice, the food was good. We went out to eat last night and it was good."
Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast says in the digital world, traffic on the website is up by 900,000 more hits than it was at this time last year.