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First week of Pilgrimage considered a success

NATCHEZ — A successful end to the first week of Spring Pilgrimage has Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Executive Director Marsha Colson saying so far, so great.

As of Wednesday, Colson said daily sales are two and three times what they were compared to the same days last year.

“I’m always afraid to brag early on, but our group tour sales are far ahead of last year, the best since 2007,” Colson said. “We are having a good start. It’s really encouraging, because we worked really hard to make new things for people to be interested in.”

Colson said Natchez Pilgrimage Tours improved marketing, updated press releases, stepped up the look of brochures with fresh photography and tried harder to tell a historically accurate story of Natchez’s history.

Changes to the Historic Natchez Tableaux have seemed to work out for the best as well, she said.

“I’m very proud the Tableaux is well received,” Colson said. “It’s still not perfect; we are revising as we go along.”

Colson said the timing is right for a successful Pilgrimage again.

“For years, group tours everywhere were down,” Colson said. “Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina and the stock market crash all hurt business.”

Natchez tourism also suffered in recent years after the end of steamboat tours. But, perhaps tourism is bouncing back, Colson said.

Colson said according to tourism reports, driving trips are becoming more popular, and Natchez Pilgrimage Tours is seeing a strong combination of both individual visitors and group tourists.

The Spring Pilgrimage purple tour continues today from 9 a.m. to 12:30 at Magnolia Hall, Shields Town House and Airlie. The peach tour picks up at 1:30 for Green Leaves, Elms and Elgin.