Hurricane Katrina aftermath slowly leaving Mississippi Gulf area

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BILOXI, Miss. -- The Imperial Palace casino resort here, shuttered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has reopened. It joins the Isle of Capri and the Palace, two casino resorts that also recently reopened.

Combined, the three resorts encompass 2,000 rooms that are once again available to visitors as the region continues to recover in the aftermath of the killer storm.

Having these three resorts back in business will attract thousands of day trip customers, some of our meetings business, and many tour groups, said Stephen Richer, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau in a statement. Although we still will be far short of our previous room inventory and meetings space, we know that the demand to visit our destination is high and that business will take off with the reopening of the [three casino resorts].

The bureau also noted that American Eagle has introduced two daily roundtrip flights from Gulfport/Biloxi Regional Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth International.

The new service is significant because American Airlines had absent from the Mississippi Gulf Coast market for more than a decade, the bureau said. The new service will help bring air seats back to 92% of pre-Katrina levels in January when Continental intends to add capacity.

To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].

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