We can improve tourism on the Coast by looking to millennials

Spectacular sunrises and casinos, such as the Beau Rivage, are just two of the Mississippi Coast’s attractions.
Spectacular sunrises and casinos, such as the Beau Rivage, are just two of the Mississippi Coast’s attractions. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

We’d like to acknowledge, and lend our support to, the latest example of the One Coast spirit.

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes and Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich came last week to the meeting of the Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast board.

Gilich said they were there to see how the Coast’s two biggest cities can work with the regional tourism agency to bring more visitors to South Mississippi. And we’re glad Gilich said he wasn’t there to cause a stir. Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast already has had enough tumult in recent months.

We urge the mayors to give incoming Executive Director Milton Segarra a chance to get settled after he arrives Jan. 8 before suggesting any changes in the relationship between the cities and the tourism bureau.

Gilich earlier in December sent the board a letter asking for detailed information about the board’s origins and finances. That, we are afraid, could create a stir. We hope this is just as Gilich said, a desire to better understand the tourism bureau.

That would be a good thing. Gulfport and Biloxi are the two biggest contributors in terms of tourism taxes and the two biggest players in the tourism market. The agency was created to look at the big picture: How to help the three coastal counties attract more visitors and grow that tourism market.

Gilich said he wants the bureau to share the information with his Innovation Team to that end.

“We believe there are some joint actions that Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, the county and the city could take to achieve some win-win-win developments for the tourism industry and all the people of the Gulf Coast,” Gilich wrote in a letter to the bureau.

We are anxious to see what that would be.

And about that Innovation Team. We couldn’t help but notice that an important generation — the millennial generation — has no representation on that team.

While the Innovation Team certainly could consult millennials on the Coast, we’d like to see some on a team that seems to be integral to the mayor’s plans.

Millennials are the tourists we should be eager to attract. They’ll be spending money on travel, concerts and other segments of the “experience” economy for years to come. We would be making a mistake if we did not take every opportunity to learn what it would take to lure more millennials to the Coast. Including them on this team would be one such opportunity.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.