System not working

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thank you for the series of articles on tourism in Vicksburg. They pointed out as we all know very well that Vicksburg is a jewel and that it has more character, beauty and attractions than most towns in the Deep South. So where are the tourists? We have had many hardships in the last five years — Katrina, floods, gas prices and now the economy. But even in the old days when we had as many as a million visitors to the Vicksburg National Military Park only a percentage of them came into town. When I worked for Main Street in 1987-1991 we used to try to figure out how to get tourists to travel the long two miles from the park to downtown.

Because of these facts about our tourism industry, businesses come and go. We never get the critical mass at one time to push us over into being a really successful tourism town.

All through the years we have had one system for tourism promotion. We always have an executive director and a board of directors of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. If you have a director with a compliant board as we have now, the whole community is limited to the vision of one person. Some have branded me lately as negative. I am not negative, I am frustrated. I have seen what this system that limits input and strategic planning by a lot of stakeholders can do. Look at us!  If we don’t have a good tourism industry in this town, the problem has to be the marketing and we need an open-minded assessment of our program for the next decade. When this assessment happens, all of the community who are interested should be invited.

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The only way that this assessment can happen is through the willingness and generosity of the VCVB director and his board.

Ann B. Jones