Visitor numbers up in city

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2003

Great weather, a holiday-themed marketing effort and the return of the Queen steamboats contributed to a sharp increase in visitor counts this November over last.

And that, noted Natchez Tourism Director Walter Tipton, helps bring in more tourist dollars that can turn over several times in the local economy.

In November, the last month for which figures are available, the Natchez Visitor Reception Center saw its visitor count jump to 16,352 compared to 12,605 in November 2002.

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That’s an almost 30 percent increase from the same month last year, according to figures Tipton presented recently to the Natchez Board of Aldermen.

That increase is attributable to a number of factors, Tipton said.

&uot;The steamboats coming back this year have had a lot to do with it,&uot; Tipton said. &uot;And we’ve had great weather. But we’ve also promoted Hollydazzle, and some events (in that promotion) started the first part of November.&uot;

Hollydazzle is a series of holiday-themed events continuing through Christmas Day that range from special house tours to an art show to open houses.

True, the number of visits the Visitor Center counted in October was a much larger number &045; 25,352 in all, compared with 24,616 in October 2002.

But that’s typical, with events such as Fall Pilgrimage and the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race taking place in October.

&uot;That number was up slightly from last year, too, but a lot of that was because October of last year was such a wet month,&uot; Tipton said, referring to many days of steady rain during that period.

Across the river at the Louisiana Welcome Center, Supervisor Zelma Murray said that center saw 1,200 visitors in November, just slightly down from that same month last year.

&uot;Each month, it’s pretty steady,&uot; Murray said. However, she said people that do visit the Vidalia center are seeking more information these days not only about the Miss-Lou, but also about other Louisiana destinations as well, such as New Orleans.