BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A big victory for tourism on the Coast this week, the Betsy Ann Riverboat will be back on the water serving tourists and locals after being out of operation for six and a half months.
The pandemic was bad for business, and Hurricane Zeta just made things worse for the Betsy Ann Riverboat.
“We had roughly about $100,000 worth of damage to the boat during Hurricane Zeta,” said owner Michael White. “So, it’s been at the shipyard for about two and a half months.”
Repairs were needed to the steel hull, and windows surrounding the captain’s chair were blown out.
“We were worried if they were going to total the boat or not,” said White. “Which thank God, they didn’t.”
And now, just days before the first tour begins, a little sanding and some touch-up painting are all that’s left to do. However, while the physical issues have been resolved, White is staring at some daunting financial issues that have continued to mount after being out of operation for six and a half months.
“We lost somewhere in the $350,000 range,” White said. “You know, that’s a big loss to take in a COVID year.”
White is realistic but also hopeful.
“We know it’s a long road ahead of us,” said White. “We’ve just got to... we’ve got to have faith. You know, my wife says this everyday ‘Pray, Michael. Pray every day.’ We’re going to do well. We’re going to survive. I think other businesses are looking at people out on the water already. People are ready to get out on the water. People are ready to get out and do things. And, I think the timing is perfect.”
And, he’s most looking forward to the basics.
“You know, it’s been so long since we’ve been on the water. I hope I remember what I’m supposed to say when I’m out there,” White said. “I’m excited to get the boat out, excited to get passengers out. You know, I’m just looking forward to meeting the people again, seeing the new faces and the old faces, and just hearing those paddles slapping against the water.”
For more information about the Betsy Ann Riverboat, click here.