Tourism leaders: City open for business

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2005

We’re all treading unfamiliar territory with a story that changes every day, but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, tourism leaders in Natchez are planning on keeping traditions alive.

That means Fall Pilgrimage and the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race will go on as planned &045; but organizers know the events may be smaller this year as hotels are still filled with many coast evacuees.

Newer events, such as Angels on the Bluff, the Phatwater Kayak Challenge and the brand-new Art & Soul event, are also scheduled to take place.

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But tourism leaders know that the next few months could mean lean times for the industry.

Two of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company’s ships will be used for relief efforts in coming months. With hotel availability slim, some conventions have been canceled, although others are booking Natchez in place of stops on the coast.

Our tourism industry has suffered from national events in the past, most recently after Sept. 11.

But tourism leaders are working hard to promote the city as a place that is open for business, and we know we will bounce back from whatever lean times are ahead.

In the grand scheme of things, as Jim Coy wisely noted last week, tourism numbers being down are nothing to complain about.

&uot;We hope Natchez can become a symbol of normalcy in abnormal times,&uot; said Coy, president of the Natchez Homeowners Association. &uot;We can be a place to come for stress-free weekends. But if our tourism is down, I don’t want to hear any complaints. There are people who have lost their homes, their jobs and even their lives in this hurricane.&uot;