Cruisin’ the Coast’s Economic Impact

There’s no question Cruisin’ the Coast is a huge draw for tourism here in South Mississippi, but how much money does the week-long event actually drive in to our area? That’s what News 25’s Katarina Luketich sought to find out and the numbers might surprise you.
In less than a week, vintage car lovers from across the nation will cruise into South Mississippi and local business owners are revving up and ready to serve. PJ’s Coffee manager Iggy McNulty is looking forward to the traffic Cruisin’ the Coast will bring to downtown Gulfport. “I’m expecting to do at least triple of what we usually make, if not more.”
PJ’s won’t be the only one to see a boost in sales, organizers of Cruisin’ the Coast say it is a huge economic engine for South Mississippi. According to a study conducted in 2011, Cruisin’ the Coast drove in $19.6 million to the three coastal counties. “That was at 2011, so our impact and our numbers have grown,” said Woody Bailey, coordinator for Cruisin’ the Coast, “So, I’m anxious to see our next study to see what that impact is. Those numbers are strictly spending by out of state people. It does not include all of our friends and the local people out there.”
The idea behind Cruisin’ the Coast was to find a way to draw visitors to South Mississippi after the summer season. Nineteen years later, organizers can say “mission accomplished.” The week-long event will draw in more than 7,000 car owners and thousands more in spectators. Gulfport Main Street Executive Director Laurie Toups said, “They’re coming in. They’re eating, they’re dining, and they’re shopping. It’s a wonderful economic impact.”
Business owners tell News 25 the everyday driver isn’t as inclined to stop, park and visit their stores. With Cruisin’ the Coast encouraging more people to walk through the downtown area, they’re hoping their businesses will see more foot traffic. “It’s just a really good opportunity for people to get out on foot since they can’t exactly go move their car anywhere and they have to be walking around. They’ll be kind of walking around looking for something to do and we’re right here,” said McNulty.
So until the weekend, managers are gladly gearing up for the mass of cruisers.
Cruisin’ the Coast officially kicks off Sunday with the annual “Cruise In” at Gulfport’s Hardy Court, “View the Cruise” in downtown Gulfport and the “Goula Cruise” in Pascagoula.

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