Tipton: Tourism numbers lower than predicted, but still up overall

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2001

Lower than expected tourist numbers for March do not call for any major changes in the city’s tourism plans, Walter Tipton told city officials this week.

Still, tax revenues and other indicators translate into healthy numbers for March, said Tipton, executive director of the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau and director of the Natchez Department of Tourism Management and Development.

He offered these statistics to the mayor and aldermen at the Tuesday meeting:

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— March tourism-related tax revenues (3 percent on hotel and 1.5 percent on restaurants) were the highest on record at $89,462.

— Trolley use was up 31 percent compared to March 2000, from 8,208 riders to 10,724.

— Natchez movie sales at the Visitor Reception Center were up 27 percent this year, from $4,313 to $5,465 from March 2000.

— Natchez Tour Bus sales were up 26 percent compared to March 2000.

Those numbers are compiled from reports made by 102 different businesses, Tipton said.

&uot;Overall our tourism is up about 2.6 percent,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s not an outstanding number but there are a lot of places in the state where the numbers are down.&uot;

The head count at the visitors center was off about 8,000 for March, he said. &uot;That was primarily not having all the motor coaches stopping at the center but getting their permits at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours instead.&uot;

That change, accommodating NPT during its busiest season, did not lower the $1 per person motor coach permit income, Tipton said. &uot;Natchez Pilgrimage Tours collected that money for us,&uot; he said.

Weather contributed to some of the decline in day visitors in the spring, Tipton said. &uot;I don’t know whether you remember how cold and rainy it was in March, but I can assure you I do,&uot; he said.

&uot;As far as I’m concerned, I’m never satisfied with the numbers, but we have a comprehensive tourism package and we’re dreaming up every way we can to bring tourists here.&uot;