Saleeby: Outlook bright for Spring Pilgrimage

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 8, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The outlook for Spring Pilgrimage is bright, especially in terms of group tour ticket sales, John Saleeby, director of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, said Friday.

The annual event, which features tours of antebellum houses and special entertainment events, runs today through April 12.

For many months now, tourism nationwide and in the Miss-Lou has been feeling the effects of Sept. 11 and the suffering economy, Saleeby pointed out.

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&uot;But now, our group tours sales are up a little, actually better than 10 percent from this same time last year,&uot; Saleeby said. &uot;We have really increased our marketing and outreach into surrounding states.&uot;

&uot;We’ve also concentrated on marketing to seniors and church groups, and it seems to be bearing some fruit,&uot; he said.

However, Saleeby did not have numbers on individual ticket sales, because many people have visited Pilgrimage Tours’ Web site to download its brochure online. &uot;Our site traffic is up but our inquiries from individuals are down, and we won’t know whether more information is gotten off our Web site until later (in the Pilgrimage),&uot; he said.

Those coming to Pilgrimage this year will see many changes, including:

4The fact that Pilgrimage itself has been extended a week longer than usual.

4The fact that visitors can buy tickets for either three- or four-house tours.

&uot;That will allow people to better manage their time while they’re in town &045; spending time going to lunch instead of touring an extra house, for example,&uot; Saleeby said.

4An event called &uot;Songs of the South,&uot; a musical production that will be held at First Presbyterian Church during the last week of Pilgrimage.

4A completely revamped &uot;Southern Exposure.&uot;