What’s springing up?

Published 8:00 am Sunday, March 6, 2022

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By Jennie Guido

Can anyone else believe that March is finally here? My azaleas are starting to pop open; and before long, there will be a fine layer of pollen covering everything. (Note to self. Get some Zyrtec quickly.)

In Natchez, spring is when everything around us starts to kick into overdrive. We (thankfully) start to notice an influx of visitors and tourists on every corner. Getting into restaurants on a Saturday night is going to require reservations or patience on the locals’ part. However, most of all, everything is beautiful and bright again.

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Yes, we stay busy the first couple months of the year with Mardi Gras; but that’s for us. Spring is filled with the out-of-towners. They have been planning a spring getaway all winter, and it’s finally time for them to venture out and see Natchez in all its glory.

Maybe I’m still on a tourism high from this week’s event I helped plan and attended in our state’s capital city. In case you haven’t heard, I have recently started working for Mississippi Tourism Association (MTA) as the Membership and Marketing Manager. This week was my first big event in my new role, and it was quite the success.

Each year during the first legislative session of the year, MTA hosts an annual Tourism Day at the Capitol, which includes a press conference on the steps of the Capitol building in Jackson with speakers from both the House of Representatives and Senate and is followed by a Legislative Reception in downtown Jackson that night.

On Wednesday, our press conference was well attended by members of the tourism industry throughout our state along with Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn. Both spoke about the importance of tourism for our state and how what we do each and every day brings people (and money) into our cities. Throughout the pandemic, tourism was hit hard. However, thanks to our legislature and hard-working tourism professionals, it has rebounded to figures and statistics close to the record-breaking 2019 year for tourism in Mississippi.

In 2021, we saw over 23 million visitors in Mississippi and supported over 101,000 tourism jobs in the state. In 2020, during the worst of the pandemic, the state saw only 21 million visitors and supported a little over 106,000 tourism jobs. In that record-breaking 2019, Mississippi hosted almost 25 million visitors and supported over 122,000 tourism jobs.

We’re not there yet, but we’re definitely headed in the right direction. Thankfully, we can each do our part here on the home front to help increase those numbers by sharing beautiful images of our city on social media, by visiting other towns within our state, and supporting those working day in and day out to bring people from all over the world to Mississippi.

So, remember to watch for that lone driver going up a one-way street the wrong way. It’s going to happen; just smile and help them out. We’re the Hospitality State for a reason!