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The Mississippi Gulf Coast is Open for Business

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					FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:      Sally Williams, Marketing and Communications Division                                601.359.5052
              sawilliams@mississippi.org

              Sandy Bynum, Tourism Division                                                        601.359.5750
              sbynum@mississippi.org

                The Mississippi Gulf Coast is Open for Business
Jackson, Miss. (May 6, 2010) – In response to numerous media reports relating to the Deepwater
Horizon oil spill off the shore of Louisiana, Mississippi state officials are working to inform
tourists and recreational and business audiences that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is open for
business.

The State of Mississippi continues to monitor and assess the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and
state agencies are working with federal response agencies and BP officials to track the path of
the oil spill and make preparations in case the spill should reach the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The
Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is working with the state’s lead response agencies,
the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Marine Resources and the
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, to stay informed of the latest developments and to
assess the potential impact the oil spill might have on business and tourism on the Mississippi
Gulf Coast.

“The Mississippi Gulf Coast is one of our state’s greatest treasures. We are concerned about the
short and long term impacts this spill will have on the businesses and individuals that make their
living from the sea and on our tourism and hospitality industries,” said Gray Swoope, executive
director of MDA. “Unfortunately, at this time, it is irresponsible speculation and inaccurate
reports that are having a negative impact on Mississippi Coast businesses that are still trying to
recover from Hurricane Katrina and the global recession.”

“As Governor Barbour has said, we will hope for the best but prepare for the worst, and we are
taking preventative action to protect our beaches and fisheries; however, the facts are that our
beaches are open, our restaurants and hotels are open, our waterways are unrestricted and fishing
charters are operating. I hope people will continue to monitor the situation and make their travel
plans based on facts, and I encourage travelers to visit www.VisitMississippi.org for the latest
information.”

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  Mississippi Development Authority · P.O. Box 849 · Jackson, MS 39205-0849 · www.mississippi.org · (601) 359-3449
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The following statement was released by MDA’s Tourism Division:

“The Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division is working closely with partners
across the Mississippi Gulf Coast to monitor the situation involving the oil spill in the northern
Gulf of Mexico. With more than 78,000 Mississippi residents directly employed in the tourism
industry and tourism revenue adding $357 million to the State’s General Fund each year, we
encourage consumers to rely on sound information before making or changing their travel
plans.”

“It is important to understand that the State of Emergency Declaration issued by the Governor is
not an indication that there is any danger posed to the public but is rather a procedural step that
enables greater resources to be used by local officials and response agencies as needed.”

“It continues to be safe to travel to Mississippi and to our beaches that border the Gulf. It is vital
that we take this opportunity to communicate to policymakers, health officials, opinion leaders
and the media about the critical role travel plays in our economy to ensure appropriate responses
as new information becomes available.”

MDA’s Tourism Division has received the following updates from its tourism partners and the
hospitality organizations on the Mississippi coast:

       Beaches: It continues to be safe to visit Mississippi’s beaches, and the state’s beaches
        are open and unrestricted. Beach vendors continue to operate as usual.

       Hotels and Casinos: These businesses are open without disruption.

       Restaurants: Restaurants on the Mississippi coast are open for business as usual.

       Recreational Boating, Fishing and Water Related Attractions: All water activities
        and tourism attractions that operate on the Mississippi Sound are open, though boating
        restrictions may occur in some smaller passes due to booming operations.

       Charter Fishing: All recreational and commercial fishing in Mississippi waters is open,
        including charter fishing and recreational and commercial crabbing. While the National
        Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has restricted fishing for at least 10
        days in the federal waters off the Mississippi Sound, the closure does not affect
        Mississippi waters.

With regard to other business areas that could be impacted by the oil spill, in working with
representatives from these industries, MDA has learned the following:

       Ports: The state’s coastal ports remain open to commercial traffic. Furthermore, the
        U.S. Coast Guard has stated the Port of Pascagoula and the Port of Gulfport are at “status
        normal” and all waterways are open with no restrictions.

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   Mississippi Development Authority · P.O. Box 849 · Jackson, MS 39205-0849 · www.mississippi.org · (601) 359-3449
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       Business and Manufacturing: Operations have not been affected. The military bases
        and installations on the coast have reported they have not been affected, either.

       Seafood Industry: The agency has also communicated with seafood industry
        representatives on the coast. These entities remain concerned about the situation and the
        uncertainty regarding how the spill will affect them.
            o The shrimping industry has expressed concern over the uncertainty of the spill’s
                potential effects but industry representatives were most concerned, at this point,
                with the 10-day stop fishing order affecting the federal waters off the Mississippi
                Sound.
            o The oyster industry continues to have serious concerns about the long term
                impacts the spill could have on the state’s oyster population. Industry
                representatives have stated that if oyster reefs are exposed to oil pollution, the
                oyster population could be devastated.
        The state’s seafood products are inspected by the Mississippi State Department of Health
        and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure Mississippi seafood is safe and of
        the highest quality.

MDA staff will continue to stay in close contact with these organizations, and as the agency
receives updated information as it pertains to these areas of potential impact, it will make that
information available. MDA will continue to keep the public informed with regards to the
potential effects of the oil spill on travel, tourism and the state’s businesses.

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About Mississippi Development Authority
Mississippi Development Authority is the State of Mississippi’s lead economic and community
development agency. Nearly 300 employees are engaged in providing services to businesses,
communities and workers in the state. While the agency is best known for its efforts to recruit
new businesses to Mississippi, the Authority provides services to promote tourism, help
communities improve their quality of place, help existing employers identify and meet
opportunities and challenges and help workers improve their skills – all with the goal of
improving the quality of life and economic well-being of Mississippians. For more information,
visit MDA’s website at www.mississippi.org.




   Mississippi Development Authority · P.O. Box 849 · Jackson, MS 39205-0849 · www.mississippi.org · (601) 359-3449

				
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