Memorial Day weekend is the first big holiday of the year for summer tourism. Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Katrina damaged or destroyed many of our major tourists attractions like Beauvoir, the J.L Scott Aquarium, and Marine Life.
Anyone who drove along the beach this weekend in Biloxi, probably noticed the many "No Vacancy" signs at hotels, so business seemed to be good. Many of the tourists said despite the devastation, the coast is still a great destination.
When the Politte family wanted to have a get-together, they decided the Mississippi Gulf Coast was good place.
"There's still so much that's torn up down here. It's just sad," said Carol Politte. "But there's still a lot to do and to see and just to rest and enjoy yourself."
The Polittes enjoyed a ride on the Biloxi Shrimping Trip this Memorial Day weekend. Captain Corrie Eleuterius say it's been a good weekend and so far an even better season. His business is up 30 to 40 percent over last year. He says the more tourist attractions on the coast, the better.
"People all want to do different things," said Capt. Eleuterius. "Some people want to go on the shrimping trip. Some people like to go camping. Some people want to take the alligator trip. Some people want to go up the rivers on the ecotours. Some people want to go out to Ship Island. Some people want to go to the art museums and the pottery and that kind of stuff, so everybody's got their thing to do. And if we have enough of these things down here for everybody to do, then everybody gets what I call a little piece of the action."
At Prime Outlets in Gulfport, Lee and Sue Minner took advantage of the holiday sales. The Louisiana couple says Mississippi's tourism industry is slowly recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
"Y'all have come a long way," said Sue Minner. "We haven't been here since Labor Day of last year. Y'all have come a long way."
Her husband added, "The hospitality of the area is just inviting. Everybody should come."
Although there are fewer entertainment options, many tourists say the Gulf Coast is still a great get away.
John Michael of St. Louis said he'd "been down to Ship Island years ago when I was a kid and had a wonderful time there. Thought we'd come back and see what's left of it. Still worth the trip."
Several people driving from New Orleans to Florida said they'd decided to just stop instead of driving straight through. Many of them said they were impressed with our area and planned to come back.