Natchez tourism plans discussed

Published 12:56 am Wednesday, February 14, 2018


NATCHEZ — Natchez’s tourism director discussed plans Tuesday for the future expansion of marketing the city while also noting the need to add a commissioner to the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission.

Tourism Director Jennifer Ogden Combs said the commission needs a sixth commissioner to replace former board member Mary Lee Toles, who died in November.

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“I don’t know how you replace Judge Toles,” Combs said, “She brought a tremendous amount of experience, knowledge, balance, fairness to that commission that is going to be very difficult to replace

“But I know we talked about … starting the process, and we are very eager to do that, because we’ve got a six-member board and if one person is out, it really hampers us in being able to do business sometimes.”

The board currently includes Combs and five NCPC commissioners.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell had hoped city aldermen would be able to nominate potential candidates at Tuesday’s meeting, but instead that is planned to occur at the next regular board meeting on Feb. 27.

Combs mentioned former Natchez-Adams School District spokesman Steven Richardson and local entrepreneur Andrell Harris as two individuals her department suggested as potential nominees.

Additionally, Combs spoke on the progress she has seen in both tourism and marketing, but also emphasized the need for the city to bring its “A” game to continue momentum.

Visit Natchez and the NCPC can invite people all they want … but if they show up and our properties and our homes and our attractions and our tours are not top quality, two things happen” Combs said “First of all, they don’t ever come back. Worse than that, they go on Facebook or Twitter or any of the sites where you rank things, and we get a bad review.”

Speaking on some of the city’s success stories, she mentioned how Monmouth Historic Inn was named as Mississippi’s best hotel for a second straight year by US News She also said the website The Manual named Natchez as one of the United States’ best destinations to celebrate Black History Month, highlighting the City Sightseeing’s hop-on, hop-off bus tour for “The Narrative of a Natchez Slave.”

Combs also said the NCPC has been expanding the city’s marketing presence to unchartered territory, such as with California-based publication “Black Meetings & Tourism.”

“(The president of the publication) said ‘I had no idea there was so much in Natchez,’” Combs said.

Combs said the publication agreed not only to cut the city’s cost to advertise, but also wanted to do editorial coverage on the city to raise awareness around the country of Natchez’s history such as the Forks of the Road former slave site and the Parchman Ordeal.”

Combs said that she had negotiated a deal with her department’s public relations firm, Lou Hammond Group, that would deduct $1,000 of the PR costs redirect that money toward improving social media on all platforms.