Tourism numbers up on the Coast, officials want to see more growth

Tourism numbers up on the Coast, officials want to see more growth

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - A recently released survey on tourism shows that the number of people visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast is going up. The survey was released Wednesday and shows a 6.3% increase in visitors from 2015 to 2017.

You don't have to look hard to find tourists on the Coast's waterfront. Jackie Kamenske and her family from Tennessee make regular trips to South Mississippi.

"I like to come down here to the beach because it's very relaxing. It's not overrun, and you can enjoy it," said Kamenske. 

Research conducted by Longwoods International for Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast found most people agree with Kamenske about trips to the Coast.

"People in all the key components including safety and security ranked the Gulf Coast 80% or higher, very satisfied," said Visit MS Gulf Coast CEO Milton Segarra. 

An area where Segarra wants to see improvement is keeping people on the Coast for multiple nights.

According to the survey of the 13.5 million visitors in 2017, 7.7 million were one-day visits, and the average length of stay dropped from 3.3 nights in 2015 to 2.5 nights in 2017.

"If we're successful to communicate the many things people can do here from nature adventures to casino, to entertainment, shopping and laying out on the beach, I'm sure that average length of stay will increase," Segarra said. 

The average age of visitors to the coast is 48, and Segarra believes sports betting will help attract younger tourists. 

"They might come the first time just to the casino, but the next time they come they will go to a different restaurant, to a different bar and do some of the attractions," Segarra. "That's something [sports betting] that is going to help tremendously."

While Kamenske enjoys the Coast, she sort of feels like it's her secret. "A lot of people don't realize what all there is to offer in this area. I think marketing wise it needs to be marketed more," she said. 

Segarra agrees this survey is part of a process to create a new branding and marketing campaign. "We need to make sure that we have one message that can certainly impact any type of demographic that we're targeting," he said.

According to Segarra, the Mississippi Coast's new tourism brand will be launched in January 2019. To view the full tourism report, click HERE.

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