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2012 Will See New Tourist Attractions on the Coast
The complete article “2012 Will See New Tourist Attractions on the Coast” by Mary Perez originally appeared in The Sun Herald Business – Tourism section Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011. What follows is an excerpt.
BILOXI – Beyond the beach and casinos, what South Mississippi has to offer is authenticity, said Kay Maghan, a senior project manager at GodwinGroup in Gulfport and chair of the Public Relations Society of America’s travel and tourism section.
“We’re not Disney World. We’re not Orlando,” she said. “We are our own little gumbo.”
The shrimp boats are worked by people who have fished for generations. Infinity will highlight the technology of the rocket scientists at nearby Stennis Space Center. Ocean Expo Aquarium and Learning Center will teach visitors about the animals being rehabilitated at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. The Library of the Confederacy will open on the grounds of Beauvoir, where Jefferson Davis spent his last years.
Richard Forte, Beauvoir’s acting director, said he anticipates the library will open in 2012, along with a replica kitchen, carpenter’s house and servants’ quarters.
Forging a brand
The challenge now is to create a solid brand for South Mississippi, Maghan said, and get the word out. People in other parts of the country know little about South Mississippi tourism, she said. “They know that Katrina blew us away, and then we had an oil spill.”
They don’t know about the new fishing piers, harbors, waterfronts, downtowns and infrastructure to support the growing tourism industry.
Karen Sock, general manager of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino, is appearing in television commercials aired in major markets throughout the country, touting the food and fun on the Mississippi Coast. Margaritaville will open in Biloxi in late May. Sock said she is optimistic tourism will pick up and Buffett’s casino will help.
“It means everything for us to have his brand right here in the community where (Buffett) began his career,” she said.
GodwinGroup was hired by the Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership to promote tourism in the three Coast counties. Part of the agency’s task, Maghan said, is to inventory all the Coast attractions, restaurants, lodging and events — anything that’s tourism-related — and create a tempting menu of South Mississippi tourism.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]