Alberto gives Gulf Coast tourism a bloody nose, but business is looking better

Alberto gives Gulf Coast tourism a bloody nose, but business is looking better

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The threat of sub-tropical storm Alberto caused quite a few hiccups for tourism over Memorial Day weekend as people decided whether or not to continue with their holiday plans on the coast.

By Sunday, tourism was back up and running at full steam. But Alberto possibly did as much damage as the storm itself could have, especially for hotels.

"We were sold out weeks ago," said Brandon Wooldridge, owner of South Beach Hotel and Big Play Entertainment Center in Biloxi. "And we had a lot of cancellations Tuesday, Wednesday this week. And we got a few of them back, but ultimately we lost about 20 percent."

While Wooldridge is optimistic about a good summer, he's also a little frustrated.

"I can appreciate where everyone's coming from a safety perspective," he said. "But at the same time, I think we need to show restraint. And, you know, this was all over the national news all week too, like it was like another Katrina coming. It was never going to be that even if it was a worst-case scenario."

In the meantime, Margaritaville Resort is making up for the lost momentum.

"It certainly had an impact. I would say probably five percent of our occupancy, we probably lost but we're recovering," said Kenny Glavan with Margaritaville. "People are re-booking. They thought the weather was going to be bad but they're seeing what everybody else is seeing. It's a beautiful time to be on the Gulf Coast."

Chanda Lewis and family weren't sure if they should leave Baton Rouge.

"At first, we canceled and then we said, 'No, let's go ahead and go.' So, we canceled and then we rescheduled it. So, we're here."

Patrick Strahan of Hammond was determined not to lose his chance to get out of town.

"We kind of did a coin toss to figure out, 'OK, what do we need to do,'" he said. "This was the closest place, the best place to come. We've been here before. So, we thought we'd chance it."

Lori and Tony Duda of St. Louis, MO, had no hesitation about their trip.

"None at all," Lori said. "In fact, we made reservations Friday afternoon."

Neither did Belinda Barksdale of Alabama.

"We didn't consider canceling," she said. "We watched the weather but decided we would chance it. And figured if we had to do all indoor activities, it would still be OK to have the kids together."

The visit was a good first impression for Jennifer Kingfisher of Oklahoma.

"We spent all day yesterday at the beach," she said. "It got bright and sunny. It was just beautiful out there. It's our first time actually seeing any beach at all whatsoever."

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