Cruisin’ in classic cars is big business
Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Raking in tourist dollars is something Vicksburg and Warren County officials have set their sights on and seem to have made it more of a priority with a new focus and initiative, and rightfully so. Tourism dollars are big business and more communities are recognizing the benefit.
I suspect once the Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi opens its new ballpark complex next year, people will see a significant spike in out of town car tags in the River City and an increase in tourism tax dollars.
But while casinos and sports complexes have generated funds for most of Mississippi, other forms of unique family entertainment are also being developed.
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One that my family and I have enjoyed for a couple decades is an event known as Cruisin’ the Coast on the Mississippi Coast.
This event draws thousands of classic car enthusiasts from all over the United States and even foreign countries to enjoy a week’s worth of “cruising” the gorgeous 26-mile length of Highway 90 in automobiles that must be at least 25 years old or older.
Last week, the event celebrated 22 years and a record number of registered classic vehicles were on hand. CTC officials confirmed that more than 8,400 vehicles were registered for the event, seeking $20,000 in prize money. But there are perhaps thousands more who drive their classic cars to the coast who do not pay the registration fee, but like to enjoy showing off their vehicle and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow classic car buffs.
Thousands of folks who do not own a classic car also show up for the event that stretches from Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula.
The economic impact from CTC is amazing and began when businessmen on the Coast wanted to develop something to draw tourists during the fall. It has certainly worked and paid off.
For the entire week, hotels, restaurants, casinos and fuel stations are packed with people. It is estimated that Cruisin’ the Coast generates more than $28 million in revenue and has grown steadily over the last 15 years, despite the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Like many who attend CTC, I plan my vacation each year around the event and last week enjoyed every day of it with my family and friends as we cruised in my youngest brother’s classic 1963 Ford Falcon wagon and 1967 Mustang, while my Dad drove his 1964 Ford Ranchero. I’m already looking forward to next year.
But it got me thinking about how awesome it would be if Vicksburg could pull together something similar and take advantage of CTC. I’m certain many of those people heading to or returning from Cruisin’ the Coast cross the Mississippi River bridge on I-20 and would enjoy an extended stay in our hotels or dine in our wonderful restaurants and visit our casinos.
Rob Sigler is editor of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at Rob.Sigler@VicksburgPost.com.