By Lara F. Bowman, Executive Director, Choctaw County Chamber of Commerce
Have you ever stopped to think we have tourists coming to Choctaw County?
Yes, we sure do! I know many of you do not consider Choctaw County as an area for tourists, but a person who travels here for recreation or leisure is a tourist. Think about how many people travel the Natchez Trace Parkway and visit French Camp. Look for out of state license plates the next time you are at the Council House Café. You will be sure to see at least one or a guest staying at the bed and breakfast.
A small rural county like ours has the means and assets to attract tourists. Many people come to camp, hunt and fish at the Choctaw Wildlife Management Area. Hundreds of campers reserve the campsites at Choctaw Lake each year. And you may not think much of these people coming to visit for the day or stay overnight in the county, but they are very valuable.
They are valuable in the terms of extra sales tax generated. When a person comes to camp at Choctaw Lake they are going to forget an item they need for camping and have to drive into the Town of Ackerman to purchase groceries, gas or ice. While they are driving to town to purchase a needed item they may see a store that sparks their interest to stop and visit. Tourism is extra revenue to our businesses and tax base.
Over Labor Day, there is an event being held at the Choctaw Wildlife Management Area called the Skool of Hard Nox Mountain Bike Race. There are bikers from over six states registered to participate in the event on Sunday, September 1. The group organizing the event is planning for over a 100 bikers to participate in the race. The Choctaw County Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring this event. By supporting this event, we are bringing over a 100 guests to Choctaw County.
Many of the participants will come over a few days before to ride the trails and become familiar with the race route. On these pre-race trips over to Choctaw County, we want these bikers to stay and eat lunch or dinner here in the county to support our local restaurant owners and retailers as well. All registrants of the race will receive a restaurant guide to Choctaw County featuring our local Chamber members and a map of the county. The Chamber of Commerce wants to support and host events like this in the county, which attract tourists and bring them back for a second and third time.
Be sure to welcome any bike riders you see in the county over the Labor Day weekend because they are here to enjoy the natural beauty of our county and hopefully spend a little extra money with us.
If you are interested in promoting Choctaw County through tourism, please contact Lara Bowman at the Chamber of Commerce 662-285-3778.