BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - At the beginning of the year, a boat owner rolled the dice on a business idea. He brought a paddle wheeler to the Coast to start offering tours.
The boat is called the Betsy Ann, and so far, the unique attraction appears to have caught on. "We're going to start this cruise with a dolphin cruise. If you look off the stern, you'll see a dolphin," Captain Michael White told passengers as they departed..
The replica of a historic riverboat docks between Margaritaville and Golden Nugget Casino in east Biloxi. White has been in business for 7 months now.
"Even in the winter time we did great. Since summer happened we couldn't be happier. We've gotten so much support from the casinos and hotels. We're ahead of where I thought I would be. We're very happy," White said.
The Betsy Ann meets a demand for more non-gaming family attractions to stir the tourism pot on the coast.
Guests are attracted to discovering the coast's natural beauty and seeing the real South Mississippi. "When you go visit a place you should see their culture and find out what makes them unique. That's what I like to do," said Texas tourist Gina Ackerman.
White is on a mission to showcase all of the things that set the coast apart, even featuring some of his competitors. He turns the spotlight on all of South Mississippi's treasures.
"The history we provide on an historic paddle boat and we're showing off old Biloxi with Deer Island, the seafood industry. We see the Biloxi schooners. We see the stuff on all the postcards and ads. You get to see it all from here," said White.
The Betsy Ann sails 7 days a week with historic tours at noon and 3 p.m. and a sunset cruise at 7 p.m.