Heritage tourism

The importance of tourism – and attracting the kinds of tourists who stay awhile and spend money in the local economy – was the focus last week of a talk at the annual meeting of the Union County Historical Society.

Sarah McCullough, who manages cultural heritage development for the state tourism division, stressed the need to cultivate more tourism tied to history and the importance of New Albany’s place on the Southern Literary Trail.

The trail, which winds through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, focuses on writers, including William Faulkner in Oxford and New Albany, and Borden Deal from New Albany.

The trail is only one part of cultural heritage tourism, which includes everything from the Civil War to the civil rights movement.

McCullough and her boss, tourism director Malcolm White, who was here several months ago to stress promoting “non-consumable recreation” such as birding, biking, hiking and leisure camping, make good points.

McCullough noted that heritage tourists spend more money than other tourists and tend to want to buy something locally that they cannot get at home.

New Albany, with its Union County Heritage Museum/Faulkner Literary Garden and the Tanglefoot Trail, are poised to capture more of the kinds of tourism that ring local cash registers.

The importance of the planned capital campaign to double the size of the museum and the continued development of amenities along the Tanglefoot Trail cannot be over-stressed.