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On Land

Coastal Mississippi Is Primed for Cruise Departures Tucked away in the center of the Gulf of Mexico between New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama, there’s a coastal destination in Mississippi providing relaxation and a little slice of southern heaven for everyone that visits. Coastal Mississippi may be a secret to some, but all who have found “The Secret Coast” are met with warm welcomes and 62 miles of shoreline dotted with unique coastal communities to explore. Coastal Mississippi’s central location at the southern-most part of Mississippi offers direct access to beaches and Gulf waters. In addition to outdoor activities, the good times roll at the region’s 12 casino resorts, which drive significant overnight stays and maintain Coastal Mississippi’s position as the South’s leading gaming destination. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in southern hospitality and endless opportunities for adventure. With Coastal Mississippi’s central location on the Gulf of Mexico, it is easy to get here from just about anywhere. Commercial air service is available to major cities from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, which welcomes nearly 800,000 travelers each year. The airport serves as the gateway to the Gulf Coast with five major airlines: American

22 SECOND QUARTER 2021 | TRAVEL & CRUISE

Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Allegiant Air and Sun Country Airlines. Primed for even more travelers, this “Secret Coast” also has a newly expanded state-of-the-art port located in downtown Gulfport, Mississippi. The Port of Gulfport, founded in 1902, has serviced vessels of all sizes and currently has a channel depth of 36 feet and no air-draft restrictions. With only an 18-mile channel, vessels can take advantage of more efficient cruising speeds and a short 90-minute transit to the Gulf of Mexico and open ocean waters. With temporary cruise terminal facilities available, the Port of Gulfport was given the opportunity in March 2020 to service Carnival Cruise Line and Royal

Caribbean Cruises with terminal operations. During this time, the companies were welcomed with enthusiasm, even with rising concerns around the spread of COVID-19. During a time of crisis, the Port of Gulfport successfully handled the cruise operations and proved itself to be a viable option for embarkation and debarkation services. Just like most states, Mississippi experienced shutdowns in 2020 that affected the economy greatly. However, Mississippi was able to capitalize on drive-in markets during this time and became the #1 Travel Spending Market in the U.S., outperforming other areas in the Southeast according to Tourism Economics in December 2020. This can be contributed to swift legislative

Profile for Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association

Travel & Cruise 2nd Quarter 2021  

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