Businesses Prepare For Memorial Day Kickoff Of Tourism Season

HARRISON COUNTY (WLOX) -- If you think of Lynn Meadows Discovery Center as a place where only South Mississippi children come to play and learn, then think again.

"Other than those Mississippians, which are about 50 to 60 percent each month... the rest of those are coming from outside the state of Mississippi," Lynn Meadows Executive Director Cynthia Minton said.

And Minton says those tourist dollars are vital during the summer months when they see their numbers nearly double.

"Those tourists keep us alive, basically, financially because they bring that money," Minton said. "Eighty percent of our coffers are generated by resources that we earn and walking through that door is the way that is done."

Like many other places along the coast, Lynn Meadows survives and thrives despite the fact that they still have very few neighbors around them. Crystal Ryan knows that feeling. She says redevelopment has been slow around the Econo Lodge on Beach Boulevard in Biloxi as well. But even still, she says their 51 rooms fill up during tourist season.

"We're sold out for Scraping the Coast, which is the next big event in June," Ryan said. "We've got reservations for the 4th of July. We're sold out for Cruisin' the Coast. We've been sold out since the end of December."

And despite their near isolation, both businesses represent places to stay and places to play that make up South Mississippi's reborn tourism industry.