Locals tend to think of South Mississippi as a coastal playground for families, with affordable family-friendly activities.
But that’s not what tourists think, according to a new survey.
Visit MS Gulf Coast asked a marketing research company called Longwoods International to ask people across the country what they thought of the Biloxi area. They surveyed 1,000 people, and received responses that may surprise residents.
It shows the area must overcome three challenges to bring more tourists and families to the Coast:
▪ Limited family appeal. The Biloxi area and South Mississippi draw two age groups — retirees age 55 plus and young adults age 25-34, most of whom have annual income of $75,000 or less. The challenge is to bridge this age gap with entertainment, food or another means, said Milton Segarra, new CEO of Visit MS Gulf Coast.
▪ Image. Those who never visited South Mississippi said they aren’t sure they’ll feel welcome and don’t think the area is a well-known destination or appropriate for children. Just get people to the Biloxi area and the survey shows their perception rises dramatically, up 20-43 percent depending on the category compared to a 10-15 percent increase at other destinations. People were surprised by what they found when they visited, the survey showed. Among recent visitors, 64 percent said it was exciting compared to just 39 percent of people who had never visited.
▪ Affordable but not unique. Those surveyed said they consider the Coast a budget-friendly place to vacation — a plus — but with nothing unique to offer when compared to other destinations in the Southeast such as the beaches of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, Daytona Beach and Tampa/St. Petersburg in Florida and Virginia Beach.
Full story here.