Tourism bill screams for Natchez role

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ohh, ooohhh, pick us, pick us!

Natchez better be raising its collective hand, squirming in its seat and begging to be a part of the next big tourism move in the state of Mississippi.

The House passed a bill Tuesday by 117 votes to none that would authorize the creation of a Mississippi heritage, history and culture trail.

As the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River, the keeper of hundreds of historical properties, the site of the South’s second largest slave-trading market and the first territorial capital of Mississippi, we can think of no better headquarters for such a trail.

In fact, let’s not even wait on the Legislature to pick us. Let’s get started now.

Natchez doesn’t need a new law to make it the tourism capital of the state; we just need a plan.

And if we make that plan now, we’ll be ready to wave our hands when funding that may come as a result of this bill is passed out.

The bill is headed to the Senate now, and a separate funding bill would have to be passed by both chambers, but the House’s strong stamp of approval seems promising.

We hope legislators recognize the importance of at least laying the groundwork for such a trail. Funding it, perhaps, should wait for sunnier days.

In the meantime, Natchez’s tourism department, representatives from the garden clubs, the National Park Service, the Historic Natchez Foundation, NAPAC and more have plenty to think about. Getting our hand up first may be the key to being called upon.