City of Laurel quickly becoming tourist destination

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:51 PM CDT
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LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - If you’ve been to Laurel lately, you can’t help but feel the vibe and notice that the city is becoming quite the tourist destination thanks in part to the HGTV hit show, “Home Town.”

The show features Ben and Erin Napier, residents who are passionate about where they live and restoring classic old homes inside the city.

As a steady stream of visitors from across the country travel to Laurel to experience life in The City Beautiful, some of those tourists have also decided to plant roots here by purchasing homes of their own.

The housing market and the downtown area have become very competitive as new businesses and residents continue to bank on Laurel’s success.

Large groups of tourists can be seen taking tours of the historical district each Friday during the month of May, provided by the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, free of charge.

Credit must also go to city leaders, from Mayor Johnny Magee to city council members and community organizations for having the vision to capitalize on the success surrounding the tv show.

George Bassi, chair of the Laurel-Jones County Tourism Committee, said everyone is eager to help make Laurel the success that it has now become.

“Luckily for us, so many small businesses and people have stepped up and so, yes, from a retail standpoint, from a restaurant and café standpoint, food truck standpoint, all of that has grown.

“What we’re also seeing are so many organizations and groups putting in events and festivals and putting in things to where there’s just about something every weekend to do downtown Laurel and that part of it attracts visitors as we know, thousands a week are coming.”

As a point of reference, during the month of April alone, more than 15,000 visitors walked through the door of the Laurel Mercantile Company, the flagship business owned by Ben and Erin Napier.

All of this, including the Leontyne Price Boulevard Gateway project, which is well underway and features a double-lane roundabout, along with work being done on Central Avenue, the city of Laurel experiencing a renaissance of sorts which is drawing visitors from around the country who want to see and be a part of what is happening.

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