Increased visitors reported during Fall Pilgrimage

Published 12:12 am Thursday, October 30, 2014

NATCHEZ — Fall Pilgrimage is in the books, and nearly 12,000 visitors marched into the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Many of those individuals also found their way into some of Natchez’s beautiful homes, said Natchez Pilgrimage Tours director of marketing Lindsey Shelton.

At NPT, group tour ticket sales were up nearly 22 percent from group sales during Fall Pilgrimage last year.

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Individual ticket sales were up six percent from individual sales during Fall Pilgrimage in 2013.

According to Shelton, overall Fall Pilgrimage sales were up approximately six percent.

“That’s actually a conservative estimate now as we continue to finalize numbers, and we’re really excited about those number,” Shelton said.

Kristy Atkins, owner of The Briars Bed and Breakfast, said she saw her numbers double from last year.

“We didn’t do anything different,” Atkins said. “Natchez Pilgrimage takes care of the publicity, but we were really excited to see an increase of visitors.”

Auburn Antebellum Home President Clark Feiser experienced an increase in guests as well.

According to Feiser, Auburn’s numbers were up by 110 people from last year, marking 483 visitors in total for this year.

“I would like to think it was because the gas prices went down this year,” Feiser said.

Although Feiser said he didn’t do anything different, receiving a grant for much needed repairs may bring back more visitors.

“We received a grant to start restoring our detached kitchen from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History,” said Feiser, who was referencing the home’s kitchen that was built in 1830.

“We will be pushing that a little more so people can come back and see it, once it’s completed.”

Feiser hopes to see a surplus of visitors during Spring Pilgrimage.

“I think our new (Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau) director, Kevin Kirby, will help us by giving good publicity,” Feiser said.

Shelton said NPT understands the importance of Pilgrimage to Natchez.

“According to state officials, Natchez’s unemployment rate would be approximately 24 percent if all of our tourism jobs went away,” Shelton said. “We know that bringing folks to Natchez for Pilgrimage means not only are visitors sharing in our history, they are putting money into our local economy as well.”

This year, Natchez saw visitors from all over the country to take part in the annual Pilgrimage.

Shelton said tourists visited Natchez from other parts of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and Georgia.

Further, the City of Natchez gained visitors from across America, including California, Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, New York and several other states.

Also, visitors came in from France, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and other areas of the world.

“When events like Fall or Spring Pilgrimage happen, the entire city really joins the effort to make sure our visitors enjoy their time in Natchez,” Shelton said. “I chatted with folks who had only good things to say about Natchez’s hospitality, great food and interesting history.”

Natchez Pilgrimage Tours are currently preparing for Spring Pilgrimage, which will be March 7 through April 7.