Quitman County is located within the boundaries of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage area. Heritage areas are defined by the National Park Service as being places “where natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources combine to form cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. The Delta is a major source of American popular culture and a major player in the nation’s history. The Blues and Gospel were born in the Delta, but spread along with our migrating population to Chicago, New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, and over the airways to London and Tokyo. Jazz, Soul, Bluegrass, Rock ‘N Roll, Rap, and Hip Hop all incorporated the sounds of the Delta. The great flood of 1927 changed American politics and attitudes about the proper role of government. More recently, the region was a scene of the struggles and triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Delta is also a land of scenic beauty. The Mississippi River is one of the greatest geological forces in the world. It demarcates the most important migratory flyway in North America.
Cultural heritage tourism means traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represents the stories and people of the past and present. It includes irreplaceable historic, cultural and natural resources.
What are the benefits of tourism? (The National Trust of Historic Preservation Facts):
- In 2001, travel and tourism contributed $537.2 billion to U.S. economy
- Travel and tourism is the third largest retail industry in the U.S. behind automotive dealers and food stores.
- Travel and tourism directly employs more than 7.9 million people and indirectly supports another 10.1 million jobs, creating a total of 18 million jobs-that’s 1 of every 7 people in the U.S. (Source: Travel Industry Association of American)
In addition to creating new jobs, new business and higher property values, well-managed tourism improves the quality of life and builds community pride. According to 2001 Report of Cultural and Historic Tourism, visitor to historic sites and cultural attractions stay longer and spend more money than other kinds of tourists. Cultural and heritage visitors spend, on average of 4.7 nights away from home as compared to 3.4 nights for all other travelers. (Source: Travel Industry Association of America)
Perhaps the biggest benefits of cultural heritage tourism, though, are diversification of local economies and preservation of a community’s unique character.