Thursday, March 19, 2015

Finally it is Spring by John Dersham

Wow! What better feeling can there be than those first sunny warm days of spring. Especially after an unusually long, dreary and cold winter like this one has been. Last Sunday after a miserable wet cold day on Saturday the skies cleared and Sunday was a beautiful sunny pleasant day. In fact I could not go inside for very long. I had to be outside with my face in the sun feeling the warmth and witnessing the beginnings of spring already evident in the maple trees that send out little reds blossoms early in the spring. The blossoms die and for a little while the trees look bare again and then all of a sudden little leaves begin to appear. Soon the cherry trees will be blooming and the daffodils finally got enough warm weather to really bloom. They have been trying to bloom since late February but they keep getting frozen and slowed down.
The improvement in weather has a very positive effect on tourism too. People from all over our region get the urge to come see our beautiful parks and waterfalls. All of a sudden Little River Canyon N.P. and DeSoto State Park are bustling with hikers and sightseers. When this happens we start getting weekend visitors for our campgrounds, cabins, B&B’s and hotels.
Over the last several years we have tried to lure spring breakers to our area by running ads and press releases to promote a spring break vacation here. We have had a little success at that but not like we would like mostly because kids tend to convince their parents to go to the beach or somewhere with higher activity based attraction content for their age demographic.
Our tourism season begins in March and grows each month through July then drops off a little as school begins and picks up tremendously in October and November. DeKalb has always struggled for visitors in the winter. Cloudmont Ski Resort does well when weather permits the making of snow. We will have overnight visitors for skiing but not in large quantity. Many young people come and go in the same day.
Our area has been a successful leisure tourism area for more than a century. Now, we are in the process of expanding our visitor experience by including activities of a younger demographic by increasing our physical based entrees; things like an upcoming zip line at DeSoto S.P. and more venues for hiking, biking, rappelling, caving, canoeing and kayaking. This can be a real boost to our environmental tourism business. If you will look at our website ( and view our calendar of events you can keep up with some of the offerings we have through True Adventure Sports, Jacksonville State University Canyon Center and One World Adventure. In the future we hope to have an extensive trail system for biking, hiking and some equestrian. This trail system is in the planning stages but requires property right-of-ways and funding. Our tourism future is very bright as we add layers of visitor interests to our venues that appeal to a variety of generations.