President Barack Obama visited Mississippi Gulf Coast of Monday to express solidarity with business owners of this tourism hot spot, affected recently by Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Help for affected businesses along Gulf Coast will form an important part of his discussion with BP executives on Wednesday, he said after he was told by a hotel owner that his business had dropped by 40 percent.
“There’s still a lot of opportunity for visitors to come down here. There are a lot of beaches that have not been affected and will not be affected,” Obama said after a meeting with Govs Haley Barbour, R-Miss. and Bobby Jindal, R-La. “If people want to help, the best way to help is to come down here and visit,” he added.
The president enjoyed his lunch-mini-crab cakes, shrimp salad sandwiches and fried shrimp-at Gulfport’s Chimneys Restaurant. Missy Bennett of the Edgewater Inn in Biloxi, Scott Weinberg of the Blow Fly Inn restaurant in Gulfport, Thad Allen, Coast Guard Adm., Richard Gollott of Golden Gulf Coast Packing Co. and Barbour joined the president. Earlier, he had dessert from Cyndi’s Sno De-Lites, which has seen a 70 percent downslide in business compared to this time last year.
This is Obama’s first visit to Mississippi Gulf Coast since April 20 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill. While Louisiana Gulf Coast is badly affected by the slick, Mississippi Gulf Coast is largely spared. Many locals believe that the president’s visit will boost their waning businesses.