Natchez hopes to double efforts with proposed tourism funding

Published 12:01 am Sunday, December 7, 2014

All the contiguous states spend more with the $11 million annually spent by Louisiana at the low end and the $22 million spent by Alabama at the high end.

White said the state is having good results with the limited resources provided for tourism promotion.

“We think with a little more we can do remarkable things,” White said. “It will increase the possibility of exposing more people to the Mississippi story.”

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And making sure visitors are exposed to the Natchez story is what Kirby has been doing since taking over as head of the CVB in September.

Two pushes Kirby said he’s been working on for Natchez is increasing the marketing of the city as a wedding tourism destination and appealing to more European visitors who tend to have more flexibility on times to travel and visit.

“The international traveler has a more discretionary schedule, so we can try to bring them in when we’re not packed with conventions or other businesses to help us out in those times,” Kirby said. “We want to find out and target the best opportunities to magnify our return on investment for this international market that’s growing.”

That return on investment, in Natchez and statewide, can go a long way.

Figures from the governor’s office estimate the state gets a return of $6.64 for every dollar invested in tourism, which creates $406 million in tax revenue each year.

The state had 21.6 million visitors in 2013 that spent $6.25 billion compared to 21 million visitors in 2012.

But ensuring the additional tourism funding doesn’t get lost in the conversation when the Legislature convenes could be an uphill battle, said Lyn Fortenbery, who is the assistant general manager of Dunleith and the past president of the Mississippi Tourism Association.

“It’s very important to let your representatives and senators know that this is something we need, because our primary income is tourism based in Natchez,” Fortenbery said. “This is something that would help us tremendously, so we all need to be reaching out and letting our leaders know this is something we need.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.