Coast has plenty of amenities to attract tourists other than beach

Coast has plenty of amenities to attract tourists other than beach

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - There’s no doubt that the toxic water along the beach has hurt tourism, but there are plenty of options to draw tourists.

Many of those include clean water for both humans and animals.

While the Mississippi Sound beach doesn’t have water fit for swimming, the one at Gulf Islands Waterpark does.

“I’m more worried about cuts and scrapes on the beach because of the bad water there with the bacteria in it,” said Anna Marie Malone of Citronella, Alabama.

Officials said that while it’s bad in one aspect, it’s also giving other attractions a chance to showcase themselves.

“They’re forcing guests to look around and go, ‘You know, I’ve made plans, I’ve got my hotel set up, what else is exciting on the Mississippi Gulf Coast?’ ” said Gulf Islands Waterpark General Manager Mark Moore. “And they’re finding a lot of new stuff that they might have missed the first time around.”

Scott Scaruffi of Metairie would have been on the beach if not for the algae.

“There’s plenty of things to still keep yourself occupied and have fun. Tourism shouldn’t be deterred from this area just because you can’t go in the water, because you can still go on the beach," Scaruffi said.

Teressa Clark of Petal is one of those people who changed her plans.

“Well, yeah, we would normally be on the beach, ride on the boat, tubing and skiing, but with the algae and them saying not to get in the water and all, we had to change our plans. So, Gulf Island got us for the day," she said.

The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies has seen an uptick of curious visitors during this time as well.

“It’s a better, safe environment,” said Moby Solangi, IMMS Director. “I think people were concerned. They were making phone calls to look for alternate things to do, and we fit right in.”

“I like good water and clean beach,” said Shiara Lebron of Gulfport. “It’s a better option with the dolphins.”

Beth Latour of New Orleans knew ahead of time what the problems were with waters in the Sound and planned accordingly.

“We go and sit out on the beach,” she said. “I'm not a beach person, so to say, but this beats going to the beach any day.”

Even the grandkids approved.

“I like to come here because you get to see the animals up close,” said Katherine Courville of Kinder, Louisiana. “And it’s better to see the animals up close than just to see their fins sticking up in the water.”

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality continues to monitor water conditions to know when the Sound is safe for swimming once again.

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