Tourism promotion has Tide fans rolling into area

A new promotion by local tourism leaders will have Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway and local businesses saying “Roll tide” by the time the BCS National Championship rolls around on Monday.

Linda Hornsby of the Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association says that more than a thousand room nights have already been booked as part of a promotion that allows hotel guests to get transportation to the LSU-Alabama game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

“We’re at over 500 people on the buses right now,” Hornsby said this morning, “and that’s not counting other business contracted by the individual hotels. We’ll do well over a thousand room nights because some are coming on the weekends and staying four nights.”

In the promotion, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsored radio spots on stations in Alabama encouraging Crimson Tide fans to book hotel rooms on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Those booking two-night stays receive free round-trip bus transportation to the game. Some of the rooms, Hornsby said, are as low as $70 a night.

“I can tell every time the ad runs,” Hornsby said, “because the phone starts ringing. It’s been phenomenally successful.”

“This is a super effort, and it shows what can be done with some quick planning and execution,” Mayor Holloway said. “I congratulate our tourism leaders on this successful effort. Regardless of people’s allegiances in the game itself, I hope everyone joins me in welcoming the fans to Biloxi and the Gulf Coast.”

“You never really know what to expect,” Hornsby said, noting that interest was not nearly as strong for Sugar Bowl packages pitched to Virginia Tech fans. “For the BCS, the Mississippi Coast CVB met with us immediately after the bowl bids were announced, and we decided that we had a chance to get the Alabama markets.

“We contracted with Vision Tours of Ocean Springs, and they have a fleet of 12 buses. As it stands right now, we’re looking to have at least four buses departing from the Beau Rivage, which tells you that the Beau has also been doing their own marketing. We’re expecting to have a couple from the IP, and the Isle, and we’ll have a central gathering point in Biloxi for the remainder. There’s no question that we’ll be using all of the buses Vision has to offer.

“And for the guest,” Hornsby observed, “this means they’ll have a few nights to enjoy themselves here, and we’ll be providing a great service, taking them to and from the game with none of the hassles of traffic.”

More info: To learn more about the promotion, click here.