New Blueway Brings Eco-Tourism to Southern Mississippi
The Old Ft. Bayou Blueway opened to the public last Saturday with hopes of bringing natural recreation options, as well as economic boosts, to the Gulf Coast area. The new Blueway offers a tranquil and scenic route through the Mississippi bayou with convenient access to local businesses.
Designed for paddle sports, the Old Ft. Bayou Blueway is the first designated waterway of this type in the Gulf Coast area. Unlike other American Blueways, this particular trail is rather short and provides an opportunity for single-day water recreation rather than overnight wilderness excursions.
Natural recreation that promotes ecological education without disturbing local plants and wildlife is always a good thing - but can the Old Ft. Bayou Blueway really be considered an eco-tourism destination?
Until area businesses adopt their own green policies, eco-tourism is probably not the right term to use.
Gulf Hills Resort marks the beginning of the Blueway trail and plans to benefit from the additional tourists it brings.
"It's new business. We're going after that eco-tourism. So, now you can kayak, you can canoe, you can do everything from Gulf Hills," Resort Manager Donna Brown was quoted to say.
Traditionally a golf resort, the hotel offers luxurious accommodations and amenities - including the new 3 bedroom, 4 bath Love Me Tender Love Me suite - but doesn't yet promote any eco-friendly features.
Local food favorite, The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint, is another business easily accessed from the Blueway and marks the end of the route. Live music and delicious southern food is available, but The Shed doesn't really cater to an eco-tourism agenda.
Over time, the Old Ft. Bayou Blueway may bring a greener economy to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, especially with plans to expand the Gulf Coast Blueway system. For now, the Blueway is simply an excellent opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the Mississippi bayou and enjoy outdoor exercise - but it can't be considered an eco toursim destination.