Spring Break: Numbers Down All Around

From:  City of Biloxi   4/16/18   GCN

Police and city leaders are pleased with the effectiveness of the city?s Spring Break traffic plan, but at the same time early indications are that Spring Break 2018 had half of the 70,000 visitors of last year and a quarter of the expected 125,000 visitors this year, which actually translated into a lower-than-average weekend occupancy rate at Biloxi and Coast hotels.

Going into the weekend, the Mississippi Lodging Association reported a 90 percent occupancy rate at the Coast's 15,400 hotel rooms, but by mid-afternoon Friday as many as 3,000 rooms became available with cancellations, which the association attributed to troubling weather reports exacerbated by a number of declined credit cards.

This year's occupancy rate - which will be confirmed on Wednesday as numbers are tabulated - was believed to be about 70 percent, far below the 86.2 percent the weekend before Spring Break, the Mississippi Lodging Association said. In the past three years, Spring Break weekend has scored a weekend occupancy rate in the mid to upper 80s, even as Biloxi's and the Coast's hotel room rate has increased.


Meanwhile, the city?s traffic plan, which saw U.S. 90 traffic reduced to two lanes in the nine miles between I-110 and Cowan Road, kept traffic moving throughout the weekend.  In fact, police never had to implement a ?full vent,? where traffic would be forced to I-110 or Cowan Road and then to Interstate 10. Police were even able to open all four lanes of traffic at some points during the weekend.


?Certainly we had far fewer numbers than we were expecting, due to weather and the credit card issue,? said Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard, ?but this plan was an example of advance planning by our Biloxi Police Department and great cooperation and support from the Harrison County Sheriff?s Department and a host of neighboring agencies.


?We want to thank all of them for the assistance and hard work, and we also want to thank the public ? our residents, businesses and visitors ? for being so cooperative and patient with the heavier than normal traffic.?


The weekend was not without incident. Police reported 666 Spring Break calls for service -in addition to the overall 2,300 calls for service citywide last week. There were 42 Spring Break-related arrests, including 16 felonies. Sixty-two vehicles were towed; 279 traffic tickets were issued; and recovered were 15 stolen guns and five stolen vehicles.


Said Leonard: "We'l be taking a look at Spring Break weekend, just as we do all events. Police will sit down and review their plan, and we?ll also have an administrative review to see how things went and what we could have done better.

See a video report from Saturday night
See video report from Friday night
See the pre-event video report