GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Visitors from northern states are a common sight in South Mississippi this time of year. They’re affectionately known as snowbirds, and the seasonal residents give the Coast economy, especially the golf courses, a boost during what isn’t typically the peak of tourism season.
“The snow birders that come down help make January-April the busiest months of the year for us,” said Ellis Hill, president at the Great Southern Golf Club.
Hill estimates 30% of his business from January-April is made up of snowbirds. If he needs evidence, he just looks at the tags in the course parking lot.
“They come from all over,” Hill said. “They come from Wisconsin, Canada, Minnesota and the Southeast as well.”
One of those snowbirds is Randy West from Cincinnati. He originally traveled to the Coast to visit a casino. Since then, he’s come back year after year.
“We came down, fell in love with the area, fell in love with the people, and the rest is history,” West said.
As the name snowbird suggests, the northern visitors are just looking to escape the much colder climate.
“You’ll find the snow birders out here in shorts even when we’re in sweaters and long sleeves, but they just like the warmer weather,” Hill said.
The fun doesn’t just stop on the golf course for the winter residents.
“We like to go out and eat. We’ve made some good friends down here and we like to visit with them, so it’s all good,” West said.
West enjoys his time on the Mississippi Gulf Coast so much, he’s looking to make a permanent move.
To help attract more seasonal guests, The Great Southern Golf Club offers monthly membership rates for snowbirds.