Delta Tourism: An opportunity to bring the world to our communities

June 03, 2016

“From rollicking cities to rural charm and rolling landscapes, there’s never a dull moment in the Mississippi River Delta region.” This is the opening line, written by southern travel writer Echo Montgomery Garrett, in this month’s 36-page profile of the Delta in Delta Sky Magazine. Those of us who live in the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt know very well the truth about this statement. The only things dull about our region are the rocks that people hike on in our beautiful natural landscapes or the knives of the many chefs that consistently produce some of the best food in the world.

As I’ve discussed many times throughout this great region, the Delta is a unique and iconic place that has the potential to be an economic powerhouse for manufacturing and traditional industry but also for the creative economy and tourism-related businesses that center around the cultural, historical, musical, culinary, and artistic treasures of our region. As the global economy becomes more competitive and connected, it is necessary for Delta communities to expand their economic development focus to better capitalize on and leverage their local uniqueness of place.

Promoting and developing our cultural and natural assets to boost tourism in our communities is a strong tool to be added to our local and regional economic development strategies.  In 2015, more than 75 million people visited the United States, spending $217 billion on goods and services and supporting 1.1 million U.S. jobs. When you factor in domestic tourism, the economic opportunity of the tourism industry for Delta communities is an obvious choice for increased economic development in our region. We must continue to invest in and promote the aspects of our region that attract these visitors.

Delta Sky Magazine’s June issue has landed in seat-back pockets of Delta Airlines planes throughout 61 countries and six continents. That’s 5 million people with the opportunity to learn about and fall in love with our region. If you are flying on a Delta flight this month, I hope you will grab the magazine and enjoy reading about your home. If you are not flying Delta this month, I encourage you to read the magazine online at

This profile was made possible by a partnership between the Delta Regional Authority, Delta Sky Magazine, and the governors of our eight states, recognizing the enormous ability and future potential of our region to attract additional visitors from all over the world.

But we are not done with promoting our region and the growth of tourism in our local communities. Next month, the Mississippi River Geotourism program will officially launch an online mapguide and website ( that provides an insider’s look into the businesses, attractions, sites, events, and experiences available to tourists along the Mississippi River.  Over the next three months, we are encouraging applications for our SEDAP funding for projects that directly and indirectly support the growth of tourism and culture-related businesses in Delta communities. And there will be more programs and investments in the coming year that further enhance the tourism industry that is supporting our local economies.

In the Delta region, tourism brings amazing opportunity for economic growth. The Delta Regional Authority has embraced this opportunity and will continue to invest in the workforce, infrastructure, and businesses that make the Delta region a great place to live, work, and most certainly to visit and play.


Chris Masingill