° empty

Consultant: City should focus on low tourism months of year

Graphic by Ben HIllyer
Graphic by Ben Hillyer

NATCHEZ — When spring or hot-air balloons are in the air, Natchez hotel rooms nearly fill themselves.

For four months out of the year — March, April, May and October — hotels fill up and see their highest occupancy, tourism consultant Berkeley Young said.

The city, Young said, has no problem attracting visitors to big events such as Spring Pilgrimage in March and April or the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race in October.

But when the hoop skirts and hot-air balloons are put away and visitors go home, the challenge to attract visitors and fill hotel rooms during the slow parts of the year begins.

“The drive in Natchez should be to build up the other, slower parts of the year,” Young said. “We need to level it out and get things consistent, so we have good, steady visitation year-round.”

Young made that suggestion as one part of a strategic plan his company presented to the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau and tourism professionals. Young’s company, Young Strategies, was hired by the CVB to conduct tourism research and develop the plan.

The benefit of constant visitation throughout the year would be seen by all businesses that profit from the tourism industry, especially hotels, Young said.

Natchez Grand Hotel and Natchez Convention Center General Manager Walter Tipton said the hotel cuts hours back for about a quarter of its staff during lean times of the year, such as December and January.

Tipton likens the situation to farmers laying off laborers during winter months.

“You have the same sort of situation in the hotel business,” he said. “The real difficult part about a hotel is that you get slow right before Christmas and New Year’s when (employees) need the money the most, when their utility bills are the highest and they need money for (Christmas) presents. It’s always a real challenge for the hotel business.”

The convention center, Tipton said, tries to offset that by recruiting conventions and meetings that will bring visitors to Natchez for overnight stays during those times.

Tipton said he believes promoting Natchez’s slower times of the year is one of the key points of Young’s strategic plan.

Doing so, Young said, will take a partnership between the hotels and CVB to see what events or promotions can be planned and how the CVB can promote them.

January and February are months Natchez should focus on building up, Young said.

“December is the busiest month of the year for people with Christmas, and many people want to be at home with their families,” he said. “There is more room for growth in January and February. The holidays are over and a lot of people have cabin fever and want to get out and do something.”

Increasing hotel occupancy in slower times would level out business for hotels, as well as potentially drive up demand for new hotels, Young said.

“We have to get all these other months up first,” he said. “I think there’s still a lot of room to fill up the hotels that you have now, and then the market will take care of itself.

“I think Natchez is an amazing place, and you’re going to be able to drive a lot of new interest and new demand.”

 

 

News

CPSO rules missing person case homicide

News

Adams County supervisors to review ambulance proposals Wednesday

News

Burnley Cook to withdraw from Ward 6 alderman race

News

Viewfinder: Cathedral student starts local health fair

News

Man arrested for Magnolia Grill burglary

News

Photo gallery: Jewish community celebrates Passover with Seder dinner

News

NASD graduation rate up, but still lags behind state average

News

The Dart: Vidalia man studies, takes care of family, too

News

Natchez Early College Academy Fun Day to help raise money for trip to Washington, D.C.

News

Parent University set for Thursday

News

Sunday focus: Voters to determine a quarter million in salaries May 10

News

Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office investigates body found in Monterey

News

County seeking ambulance proposals

News

‘Suzi’s Girls’ remember lasting legacy left by coach

News

Natchez man killed in Ferriday wreck Friday night

News

Photo gallery: The bluff has gone to the DockDogs

News

Tactics in case surrounding alleged attack of parish DA questioned

News

Student charged in verbal assault of teacher

News

City back in court to determine damages in Roundstone case

News

Report: Cuts put school district $1.5M short

News

Faith and Family: R.V.I.C.S. helps Children’s Home

News

Photo gallery: Chalk artist inspired by God creates artwork at First Baptist Church

News

Man previously arrested on rape charges, charged with another sex crime

News

Natchez-Adams School District to pay $127K to former principal