Algae bloom hurts tourism businesses on Mississippi Gulf Coast

Updated: Jul. 8, 2019 at 9:59 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Coastal tourism officials say they are using all of their resources and assets to communicate exactly what is happening regarding the impacts on tourism due to the algae bloom.

“The beaches are not closed. The water is, but you can go to the beautiful beaches and have activities on the beach,” said Milton Segarra, CEO of Coastal Mississippi.

Hotels made out fine over the Fourth of July weekend. The algae’s presence not causing any cancellations for some of them. But, according to the tourism office, some businesses were not so lucky.

"The small end businesses are in a difficult situation because they depend specifically on the activities on the water," Segarra said.

Some of those businesses include souvenir shops and beach equipment rentals. J.J Pierotich, the owner of Sharkheads in Biloxi says the summer was fine before the beach water was closed. Now, people have been avoiding the beach altogether.

“I’ve had to call people not to come into work, cut shifts. We’re having to rethink our payroll and what’s going on around here because our business has just tanked,” said Pierotich.

With the announcement that the spillway will be closed soon, some hope for a better future. But the affected business will not get a rain check for lost revenue.

“So, the summer will be over by then. There is no making it up,” declared Pierotich.

Coastal leaders and tourism officials will meet with some of the beach vendors and small business owners Tuesday afternoon to find some type of support and maybe regain a little bit of what they lost in the days since the blue-green algae arrived.

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