Holiday Weekend Good, But Overall Summer Tourism Is Slow For Some

Labor Day weekend marks the end of the summer tourism season. Workers at all the tourist attractions we visited on Saturday told us they were doing well this holiday weekend. However, when we asked them about summer business as a whole, not everyone gave it good reviews. Instead some business owners talked about how they are trying to pull out of their summertime slump.

Some small hotels managers say their occupancy rates took a big dip this summer. During what should have been their peak season, they were cutting prices to stay competitive.

"In July, over the past four years we've been able to keep a good rate, but now you have to lower your rate for competition because we're not seeing the walk-in traffic like we used to see," Hotel manager Cheryl Henry said.

The owner of the Shrimp Boat Tour in Biloxi says he isn't cutting prices, but he is trying new marketing strategies and increasing his advertising budget. He says he and owners of other small tourism based businesses have watched their profits slip 20 percent or more because of a weakening economy.

"Gotta get money flowing," Corrie Eleuterius said. "If money doesn't flow, nobody's gonna go. That's what it takes. If the economy gets on a rebound. Gets started back up strong again. Stock market comes up. People will start spending money."

Jonathan Richardson says fewer people have been spending their money renting charter fishing boats. From Texas to Florida, captains are trying innovative ways of reeling in customers.

"When we have the one to two people that can't afford a full charter," he said. "We split charters so that's helping out some and that way people can get into charter fishing and bring their kids out fairly inexpensive."

Not everyone feels the need to change their game plan. Beau Rivage has been able to weather the summer slowdown.

"Summer's a strong season for us, " public relations manager Mary Cracchiolo said. "We've had a great summer. We're basically flat over last year. We haven't seen a real significant increase or a real significant decrease."

Most of the small hotels were booked this holiday weekend, but as of Saturday morning there were still a few rooms available.

by Danielle Thomas