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Consider This: State Parks and Tourism

Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 6:00 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With the exception of a few bright spots, Mississippi State Parks are an embarrassment.

Go to any other state in the southeast - or most any state in the country - and you’ll see the difference.

When you think about the natural amenities of Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina, comparable southeastern states, Mississippi has the same attributes.

We have great hunting and fishing, beautiful lakes, creeks and rivers, hiking and biking trails and amazing coastal inlets. Mississippi is all about the outdoors. With our great year-round weather, we should have some of the best state parks in the country.

Some state legislators are casting stones about why we are in this predicament and who’s to blame.

What they need to do is look in the mirror and they will find the answer. The state legislature has continuously cut funding year after year, which led to our state parks being neglected for decades.

State leaders are finally beginning to understand the value of our state park system and the economic development potential of a tourism driven economy. Tourism is a huge economic driver in other southern states, and it should be a much bigger factor for Mississippi.

We are allowing neighboring states to entice those visitors and the revenue that follows. It’s Economics 101: We create better parks, and we create a significant return on that investment.

It’s long past due that we improve the quality of our state parks, invest in upgrades and new amenities, and invest in an ongoing aggressive tourism marketing campaign.

People want to get away, to have outdoor experiences, and we need to encourage travelers to have that experience right here in Mississippi.

Let’s invite them to enjoy the great outdoors that all of us are fortunate to enjoy all year-round.

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