Visitors Center sees another jump in guests

The number of people walking in the door at the Biloxi Visitors Center is up 22 percent over last year, with more than 137,000 guests using the beachfront facility, and at the same time, the center’s gift shop, a treasure trove of wares from local artists and craftsmen, has seen nearly a 40 percent increase in business.

The numbers, gleaned from an electronic patron counter at the center’s front door and gift shop receipts, were part of a glowing report released this week by Bill Raymond, manager of the Biloxi Visitors Center.

The 137,692 guests at the center includes walk-in visitors seeking information on local attractions and accommodations as well as those attending one of the 258 events the center has hosted in the past 11 months.

“The overwhelming positive response we have seen has far exceeded what anyone imagined when the city opened the Visitors Center only 3½ years ago,” said Raymond, who expects the growth to continue as the center adds more public events to the calendar.

“We want this building to be used by residents as much as visitors so we are constantly hosting events such as book signings and fairs to promote Biloxi history and culture,” Raymond said.

The December calendar is full of family events, beginning Thursday at 5:30, when the Visitors Center will kick off Christmas in Biloxi with the holiday lighting of the Lighthouse. The public is invited, and Santa will be on hand, sharing cookies and hot cocoa.

The holiday celebrations will continue throughout the month, culminating with the Annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, Dec. 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Said Raymond: “This event will be a great opportunity for last minute shopping with more than 50 local artists and craftsmen displaying and selling their creations.”
See Biloxi’s holiday lineup


Borrowing on agenda for tonight’s council meeting

Biloxi may be doing something this evening that the city hasn’t done since before gambling arrived more than 20 years ago: Borrowing money to pay expenses until after the first of the year, when property tax revenue begins rolling in.

The issue — where the city proposes to borrow up to $5 million and repay the short-term loan with property tax revenue — will be one of a dozen measures on the agenda for the City Council’s 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

Councilmembers also will see the return of a request for a change in zoning to allow a La Quinta Inn and Suites to locate on U.S. 90, just west of the Four Points by Sheraton. Councilmembers originally had sent the measure back to the Planning Commission, asking commissioners to consider re-zoning from Hopkins Boulevard to Benachi, just east of the Visitors Center.

See the meeting agenda and support documents