Summer Starts, Puts Tourism In Full Swing

BILOXI (WLOX) --  Statewide numbers show the tourism industry is off to a good start this year.

"There continues to be demand for the tourism product we have in this area.  We're up about 5,000 jobs in the total hospitality and leisure industry," said Richard Forester, Harrison County Tourism Director.

To lure visitors for leisure, the Department of Tourism is focusing on advertising and new programs.  Recently, it kicked off a new gas voucher program

"Certainly, the response has been greater than we anticipated," said Forester.

Out-of-towners and locals who stay at south Mississippi hotels for at least two nights will get a 50 dollar gas card.  Managers at The Edgewater Inn in Biloxi said the calls have already started coming in.

"They were excited...yeah really...$50.00 after you pay for a room is worth it," said Trish Adamick, Edgewater Inn Assistant Manager.

But, Forrester said coast tourism could use a boost from people who call the coast home.

"If you take a little time and perhaps be a tourist in your own backyard, you would come to appreciate the things you have and what there is to do," said Forester.

The Edgewater Inn leaders said this year more locals are checking-in for get-aways at home.  The Assistant Manager said she knows one good way to attract more people.

"If you can find something that's going to help with the children, then a lot more people are going to come to the coast," said Adamick.

With more businesses back and incentives in the works, tourism leaders hope to keep the people coming.