Local Businesses Eager To Welcome Cruisers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Local Businesses Eager To Welcome Cruisers

A ringing phone breaks the long silence at Gulfport Beachfront Hotel. It's been much too quiet on this end of Gulfport for the past year.  

"We're getting a restaurant next door pretty soon, but we've been lonely for a while," says General Manager Peter Magee. 

The next sound General Manager Peter Magee is listening for is the roar of engines in his parking lot.  

"This is the first real event we've had back since the hurricane that makes the area seem normal," says Magee. "It's great to see the hotels booked again, restaurants and casinos up and running. We're booked solid for the week."

The return of Crusin the Coast has so many hotel operators feeling positive about South Mississippi's return as a major tourism destination.  

"I think if they come down now and start to see the restaurants, the hotels, gas stations, you know, anything opening back up back on the beach, it's just going to get bigger again as time goes on," says Magee.  

Cruisin the Coast organizers aren't expecting the more than 5,000 vehicles the event drew before Katrina. But, they say, right now the numbers indicate they're pretty close. And even a projected 4,000 vehicles would be a big boost to the still recovering tourism industry.  

"We've been up, down, booked, had rooms, didn't have rooms," says Biloxi Hampton Inn Manager Judy Bird. "Now we're back to no rooms."

And that's just the way Bird likes to see her hotel and her hometown - full of happy people with no room for worry.  

"Yes, we're very happy," says Bird. "Each little thing that comes back makes us just a little bit happier."  

by Don Culpepper

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