Tipton: Future bright for city tourism

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 1999

A trail first brought visitors to Natchez, and it may be trails that will bring them back, said one tourism official Friday morning.

Natchez Tourism Management Director Walter Tipton addressed the Chamber of Commerce First Friday meeting on the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s marketing plan for the year 2000.

Involvement in packaged tours and trails throughout the southern United States will be included in the upcoming marketing plan, Tipton said. When visitors come to the U.S. from other countries, they want to visit different places, he said.

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Natchez has joined such groups as the Mississippi River Trail, a seven-state bicycle route, and the Plantation Alliance, containing 45 plantation properties from Baton Rouge north through Natchez.

The Natchez Trace Corridor Association also provides guidance to the uninitiated in the southern U.S.

World travelers need these trails to get them from place to place in our country, he said.

&uot;They think they can stay in Orlando and make a weekend trip to Memphis,&uot; he said. &uot;They need this guidance.&uot;

Only in his fifth month at the CVB, Tipton admits that marketing Natchez in this or any other millennium is &uot;an awesome responsibility.&uot;

&uot;We have a whole city to sell,&uot; he said, &uot;from individuals, to couples, to families, to groups, to companies …&uot;

Approximately $84,804.66 in matching grant funds from the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development will help Tipton and the CVB to promote Natchez.

The bulk of the money will be used to purchase print materials and the remainder will buy media advertising.

Another application is in place with the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development for an additional $30,215.13.

Through brochures and media airwaves, Tipton estimates the CVB will reach more than 10 million people in the next six months with their message of Natchez as a travel destination.

Telling the world about Natchez’ golf courses is also top on Tipton’s list.

&uot;Do you realize that 14 percent of the national travel market is golf related?&uot; Tipton said.

Golfers from Illinois to Munich, Germany can benefit from mild winters in Natchez that allow prolonged golfing, he said.

Using niche marketing, Tipton plans to expand African American attractions like the NAPAC&160;Museum, Tipton said. He added that other individuals and organizations are helping build relationships and infrastructure for the city’s growth.

&uot;The Mayor is in Los Angeles this week trying to build a Southern &160;Film Festival,&uot; Tipton said. &uot;Reports are very positive – we’re trying to marry the film festival with our literary festival.&uot;

Competition for tourist dollars is sharp, Tipton said. Some of the toughest competition for Natchez resides within Mississippi.

&uot;Beau Rivage in Biloxi has as many hotel rooms in that one complex as Natchez has in the whole city,&uot; he said.

Despite the fact that the construction of the Convention Center Complex has yet to begin, Tipton said the CVB is already booking tour groups for it.

&uot;We have things in place now that won’t come to fruition until 2002,&uot; Tipton said.

By that time, Tipton anticipates a full, year-round calendar of events for both tourists and residents.