Natchez looks to grab your girlfriends

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NATCHEZ — Luring ladies to town is among the goals of the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau’s revamped marketing strategy, Tourism Director Connie Taunton said.

During a retreat of the CVB, the Natchez Tourism Marketing Advisory Committee and service industry representatives last month, Tourism Consultant Darienne Mobley listed girlfriend getaways, family reunions and sports marketing as top tourism draws.

The CVB soon began promoting Natchez as a girlfriend getaway destination, listing businesses that cater to shopping, dining and pampering on its Web site.

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Taunton said the CVB wants to heavily promote girlfriend getaways during hunting season. While the men are off hunting, women can explore what the city has to offer.

“We feel like we have some very unique shops, from antiques to special gifts, that women will enjoy,” Taunton said. “We want to help them spend money, and we want them to spend it in Natchez.”

The CVB has presented a proposed marketing budget of $375,500 to city officials. Taunton said the majority of the budget will go toward traditional and live media advertising in areas within a 250-mile radius of Natchez, including Jackson, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Monroe, La., Lafayette, La., Alexandria, La. and Shreveport, La.

The proposed budget, which includes money for leisure tourism, heritage tourism and convention and meeting tourism, does not include revenue generated from the $2 hotel room tax approved by voters last year.

As for the remaining two tourism draws, Taunton said the CVB is catering to family and class reunions by providing information packets to out-of-town guests and assisting organizers with planning and registration.

Sports marketing is a different beast.

“Sports marketing is at a standstill until we get a more up-to-date recreation facility,” Taunton said.

In years past, Natchez was host to several Mississippi Tennis Association tournaments.

The last tournament, held four years ago, generated $200,000 for the city, Taunton said.

“It’s become a very competitive market,” Taunton said. “It’s harder to get tournaments here because of the court requirements and our courts can’t match what’s out there.”

However, sporting events such as the Phatwater Challenge on Oct. 10 leave Taunton optimistic.

“The kayak race has really grown, and it’s become bigger and bigger each year,” Taunton said.