Re-inventing what we do best is key

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The ever-fickle tourist sure isn’t making things easy.

But experience is the greatest teacher and Natchez certainly has plenty of that.

Spring Pilgrimage has been a part of our community for 75 years. Something is working.

But our dependence on tourism means Natchez can’t just accept “working,” we need “excelling.”

Statistics from this year’s Pilgrimage show a few trends. The average tourist spent fewer nights in town. Group tours were up, but individual tours were down.

Natchez needs to attract more people, keep them here longer and convince them to come back.

Revamping parts of the tried and true house tours is necessary. Today’s younger generations may not stand around and listen to a narrative about the house, its owners and its furniture.

Our computer and video game culture wants something more, something moving.

Natchez Pilgrimage Tours’ plan for Characters in Costume sounds like a good start. We’re glad NPT is looking at ways to improve the tourism product.

From there, Pilgrimage must be interactive and child-friendly.

Could certain houses host in-costume history with a bit of mystery nights for tourists who like to get involved?

Could we create a passport through time program that encourages children to seek and find special items at houses for a reward?

The ideas must be endless and the follow-through must be detailed if Natchez hopes to see another 75 years of tourism success.

Natchez is a special place; we owe it to the world to show them — on their terms.