Citizens attend fish fry

Published 11:43 pm Thursday, May 29, 2008

NATCHEZ — Tourism officials answered questions about the hotel tax from approximately 60 citizens at a fish fry at the Natchez Convention Center Thursday night.

The convention center put on the event in hopes of educating people about the of the hotel tax.

Director of the convention center Walter Tipton said a woman who was wondering where the money would be spent approached him.

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Tipton said he literally handed the woman a breakdown of where the money would go.

“After I explained all of that, she said she was much more comfortable in supporting the tax,” Tipton said.

He said all it takes is truly explaining the tax to people.

The $2 per occupied room tax will create a marketing fund for the Natchez Visitors and Convention Bureau to use to promote Natchez, which will bring in more tourism dollars to overall benefit the city.

Tipton said having the ability to advertising the city is key.

“You can have the best Festival of Music, the best Juneteenth celebration, the best Southern Road to Freedom, but if you don’t let people know about it, they’re not going to be here,” Tipton said.

He also said with all the city has to offer, especially now with the new convention center hotel, it is time to do some serious advertising.

“It’s an important time to get behind this initiative,” he said.

Henry Deer, who recently moved back to Natchez, is attempting to learn as much about the hotel tax as he can, which is why he attended the fish fry.

“I’m trying to find out how the money is going to be spent and who will be spending it,” Deer said.

He said while the information disseminated at the fish fry was helpful, he’s still on the fence.

“I still haven’t made up my mind,” he said on whether he’s going to vote for the tax.

He said lack of information and knowledge on the tax will be his major deterrent in not casting his vote for more marketing funds.

He said hopefully by June 3 he’ll know enough to make cast a smart ballot.

Devereaux Shields House owner Ron Fry attended the event to show his support. He said owning a bed and breakfast, he knows how important marketing is.

“Part of our success is contributed to marketing and advertising,” he said.

He said from his success with the bed and breakfast, they’ve been able to expand, bring in more tourists and employ more people.

“The whole city can do the same thing on a bigger scale,” he said.

Deloris Washington came out to hear about the tax but she said she’s not in support of it.

“I think we’re paying enough for the rooms,” she said.

While it won’t affect her, she said she thinks it will prevent tourists from coming to Natchez.