We can all do our part for tourism

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2005

To our great relief here in the Miss-Lou, Wilma has crossed over Florida and worked her way northward in the Atlantic.

I guess the water wasn&8217;t to her liking up in the North part of the Gulf and that suits all of us just fine. All across the Gulf entire cities continue to clean up after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

While the damage here in Natchez doesn&8217;t compare to the loss of lives and homes elsewhere they both left a mark here that many may not realize.

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That is the loss of tourism dollars.

To much of the country traveling to Mississippi and Louisiana right now would seem foolish, after all, the televisions have been showing nothing but devastation and ruin.

We here in Natchez are open for business and we need for the entire country to get that message.

Fall Pilgrimage is here and while it may not be a record-breaking season we need to make the most of what visitors we have.

Believe me, I know what you have heard; bus tours are down, the steamboats aren&8217;t coming back until spring and so on.

But, have you heard that everyone is still working hard to make the best of a bad situation.

Everyone from Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, Downtown Development, our Convention and Visitors Bureau and all public officers are trying to get the word out about Fall Pilgrimage and to get people interested in spring 2006 Pilgrimage.

And you can be a part of that effort.

Speak to each and every tourist you encounter in town. Ask if they need directions, tell them your favorite dinner spot and most importantly, thank them for coming to Natchez and tell them you hope to see them again. Another thing you can do that you may not have thought would impact tourism is to shop locally. As a former store owner in Natchez I can tell you that having local people shop in your store on a regular basis and especially in the upcoming Christmas season, is what gives proprietors the cash flow to buy things to have in their stores during Spring Pilgrimage. Then the money made during Spring Pilgrimage enables you local stores to stay open during the lean days of summer.

I hear people all the time discuss how we need an industry to come to town and take the place of International Paper Company and I am not opposed to that happening. As far as I am concerned, the more jobs we have in Adams County the better off we are. But we all need to realize that tourism is an industry also and one that benefits every resident. Dollars spent in local restaurants, gift shops, bed and breakfasts and with our home tours turn over many times on the streets of Natchez.

Remember each of us is part of the welcome committee here in Natchez and by encouraging people to spend their tourism budget with us we all can benefit.

Christina Hall

writes a weekly column for The Democrat. E-mail her at