Vicksburg has opportunity to be a destination

Published 7:34 pm Friday, February 22, 2019

The numbers Mayor George Flaggs Jr., touted during the annual Main Street Vicksburg meeting Friday are welcome news to our community that relies heavily on tourism.

In three years, according to Flaggs, Vicksburg should be able to multiply the 500,000 coming to see the Vicksburg National Military Park and combine it with the Champion Hill battleground site in Bolton and the state’s Grand Gulf Park in Port Gibson to bring an additional 300,000 people to the area.

“It’s on its way because of what the Friends of the Park is doing. Most of the people who go in the park spend eight hours a day in the park,” he said. “If they have to go to Champion Hill in Bolton and Port Gibson, that’s at least a day in Vicksburg.

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“That’s a day to your restaurants, that’s a day to your hotels, that’s an increase in revenue by way of sales tax.”

In order to get those potential 800,000 people annually to spend nights in hotels, dinner in restaurants, and shop in our small businesses, we need to find ways to attract them to downtown.

The proposed $10.9 million riverfront redevelopment project — a planned amphitheatre, pavilion on the river, walking trail and pedestrian walk from Washington Street to the river — will enhance the city’s appeal to tourists, which also includes an additional 28,000 people who come to the River City on the riverboats.

“You’ll get so when those 28,000 people come, they’ll see Vicksburg before they get here and before they dock, because the whole riverfront will be redesigned and you can see Washington Street like you’ve never seen it before,” he said.

And that means, Flaggs said, “When they come to Washington Street, they’re going to shop. They’re going to go the National Military Park, and if we can get them to start staying overnight, I believe on the Mississippi River, Vicksburg will be the site.”

It’s a vision that will benefit our entire community, but it takes all of us to get on board.