JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Vicksburg tourism took a big hit thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the city is working to rebound and redevelop its riverfront with cruise lines recommitting to partnerships with the city.
“The riverboats have not docked at all since COVID began,” said Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Laura Beth Strickland.
Laura Beth Strickland is the Executive Director of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She says COVID-19 has had a negative economic impact on tourism.
In fact, the usually bustling riverfront is now empty.
“It has had a huge impact on our industry. We rely on those riverboat passengers to come to our museums, come to the military park, and come to shop,” said Strickland.
Mayor George Flaggs says the riverboat traffic is expected to return and pour millions of dollars into city.
He says the American Cruise Lines signed a 20-year lease and is set to start docking in the city 2021.
Viking Cruise Lines also signed a lease will start docking in 2022.
“I am excited. We have been able to work out two contracts and more to come with the cruise lines such as Viking and American Cruise Lines coming on Vicksburg and increasing the number of times they dock here. More importantly, what they have done is to enter a contractual agreement with us to develop our riverfront, so they can have exclusive docking rights and they can have their own property in which they can dock their own boats” said Mayor Flaggs.
Flaggs says the deal is a win-win for the city and local businesses that are struggling during the pandemic.
“We get two dollars per person that docks here in the city of Vicksburg. That is phenomenal anytime you can get your riverfront developed at no cost of the taxpayers and then at the same time increase tourism.”
Strickland agrees. She points out that the American Queen Steamboat Company will also be returning next year.
“The partnerships that the cruise lines have with the city are a step in the right direction. We have missed the riverboats,” said Strickland.