Biloxi has great track record, Holloway tells analysts

If you’re wondering how Biloxi will recover from Hurricane Katrina, just check the city’s track record over the past decade or so, Mayor A.J. Holloway told two groups of financial analysts in New York City this week.

Holloway was asked to update the city’s recovery efforts and future outlook for the two groups, whose members monitor factors influencing the economy and advise would-be investors and developers.

“Today, I come before you to say that right now in Biloxi we’re dealing with some issues that some cities in this country ‘wish’ they had to deal with,” Holloway declared, adding with a smile: “Well, some of them, anyway.

“We have a ways to go, but a lot of people are coming to realize that we were making history before this storm, and we stand poised ready to make history again.”

Looking to Aug. 29, when Beau Rivage Resort and Casino is scheduled to re-open, Holloway cautioned audiences that they may not see the same 35 percent jump in gross gaming revenue that the city saw in 1999, when Beau Rivage originally opened.

“You have to realize that today we’re looking at attracting people to what is either perceived as a disaster zone or a construction zone,” the mayor said. “People with disposable income to go anywhere they want, may not have a disaster or construction zone at the top of their vacation list. You also have to consider that the 70 percent figure on gross gaming revenue might be a little misleading.

“You’re looking at thousands of entertainment-starved volunteers and FEMA workers in town, so you have to add that to the mix. That 70 percent is not coming from 70 percent of the pre-Katrina visitors.

“I say these things because I’m conservative by nature,” Holloway continued. “and I wanted you to know my thinking on these numbers.

“But there’s no mistake to this: When we get more hotel, rooms, when we get more restaurants, when we get more of our amenities like the beach, and the golf courses and the museums back in operation we’ll start seeing a steady and sustainable level of growth.”

To read the prepared text of the mayor’s remarks, click here.

Incidentally, you can get a firsthand look at one of Holloway’s out-of-town presentations regarding the city’s recovery from the mayor’s address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors back in January. To see the 16-minute video, click here.