Pilgrimage group tour numbers up

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 12, 2010

NATCHEZ — One week in, Pilgrimage is doing both better and not as well as expected.

“Our group tour numbers are up considerably,” Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Director Marsha Colson said. “We are looking at 18 to 20 percent more groups.”

Approximately 80 groups have booked tours through NPT, Colson said.

And the groups have treated the houses on tour well, said Airlie owner Katie Frieberger, whose house was on tour Thursday morning.

“We had a good number of people, and everybody seems really happy to be here,” Frieberger said.

“It is the usual — we had some tourists who were from Jonesville, some from Connecticut, and Sunday we had some from Belgium.”

But while group tours are up, Colson said that individual tour sales were not quite what she wanted.

While she said she doesn’t have exact numbers of ticket sales, Colson said she compares the income of a day to its companion day from the year before, for example, comparing the first Saturday against the first Saturday.

“Our individual ticket sales are not up, they are down a little from last year,” she said.

“We know we shouldn’t really worry about that yet in the first week — because of the weather we have been having —  and I am very hopeful it will be a very good pilgrimage.”

The weather has started to clear up, and while forecasts for Friday and Saturday expect partly sunny conditions, the forecast for Sunday is for a clear blue sky.

Frieberger said one thing tourists have made special mention of has been the Historic Natchez Pageant.

“They have made some changes to the pageant, they have done some improved staging and improved some lighting in ways that really enhance it,” Colson said.

“I was there the other night and watched a group of college students from Boston who were there, and they really enjoyed it.”

A total of 23 houses are on tour this year; tickets for two-house tours are $16 and tickets for three-house tours are $24.

For the full tour schedule and more information, visit www.natchezpilgrimage.com or call 601-446-6631.