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The Critical Importance of Tourism

McDonaldCo-01-pressCommunity excellence occurs when we collaboratively develop a really cool place to live and visitors agree. Sophisticated community leaders know the power of tourism (which I'll be speaking on today at the Mississippi Tourism Association's Spring Conference in sensational Meridian). But, there are still those that refuse to accept that supporting a Visitor Economy is a pre-requisite to community exceptionalism.

That wasn't the case in McDonald County MO in 1961. Apparently, the highway leading to the lakes and attractions was omitted from the State Map. Within weeks, a movement to secede from the State was mounted. "Adjoining counties in Arkansas and Oklahoma were invited to create a 51st state. Stamps and passports were printed and, most importantly, the news hit the national press. A border guard of volunteers formed. They delighted in toting muzzle-loading rifles and black powder revolvers. It made for great photos," according to Joplin Globe writer Bill Caldwell.

"Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus stirred the pot by inviting McDonald County to join Arkansas as its own bootheel on the west. Joplin’s Chamber of Commerce invited the territory to have an embassy in Joplin for passports and visas."

Cooler heads, of course, prevailed. But, isn't it fascinating how important tourism was to a county in the 1960s.

It's just as important today.

Image Credit: Missouri Life

Bill Geist

Bill GeistBill Geist

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