NPT numbers up from last year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 28, 2009

NATCHEZ — Don’t tell the economists, but Natchez Spring Pilgrimage is making money this year.

So far, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours is reporting an increase in house tour ticket sales to the tune of $2,200 more than 2008.

Steamboats The American Queen and The Delta Queen are absent, but sales survived the blow, NPT Director Marsha Colson said.

Email newsletter signup

“We were very, very worried about missing the steamboats,” she said. “That’s such a big part of the group tour business.”

She said the boats would bring in as many as four tours in a single day.

The overall numbers show a decrease in bus tours, which account for 20 percent of NPT’s income.

“As of (Thursday), we had 74 buses booked for Pilgrimage. At the same time last year we had 86,” she said.

But she said after losing the boats, that’s not bad.

“I don’t see that as a decline. I look at that as good numbers,” she said.

Colson said she looked through her daily reports to pull a few of the days that brought in big sales.

On March 23 and 24, NPT was head of the same time period in 2008 by $11,000.

For an 18-day period this year compared to last, NPT was ahead by $7,700.

The tourists coming to Pilgrimage have been from a variety of places.

They’ve been coming from Finland, Belgium, Quebec, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, New York, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas.

Colson said tourist information is gathered from merely talking to the tourists, but next year she hopes to install a system to document tourist origins better.

“We’re working on a good way to track how people hear about us,” she said.

Colson said a lot of people are coming regionally, too — an effort NPT worked hard on this year.

“Gas is at a reasonable price as compared to what it was, and all the people are still concerned about the economy,” she said. “(But) they’re not zipping up their pocketbooks completely.

“I think people are looking at this as a nice, inexpensive vacation.”

Historic Natchez Pageant ticket sales are doing well, too, Colson said.

She said Pageant was slow the first week but then began to pick up.

“Last time I looked, Pageant sales were pretty close to last year’s numbers,” she said.

As far as Southern Exposure and Southern Road to Freedom, sales have been as good or better than last year, Colson said.

Pageant ends April 4, and Pilgrimage ends April 11.

“I’m hoping we’ll either continue to have good tours or hold steady,” Colson said.