Natchitoches is prominent in Southern Living magazine, and several other national publications, thanks to a Sunshine grant. The Natchitoches ads were shown at the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission meeting Tuesday, March 3. The $60,000 Sunshine grant from the state allowed the Tourist Commission to place the ads. The grant funds must be spent before June according to the guidelines.
Director Arlene Gould reported the January occupancy tax collections were the second highest ever received. The net collection was $45,612, only $4,582 less than the record in 2020. February net collections were $21,675, only $3,636 less than last year. Gould said these numbers show COVID did not decimate tourism here as it did in many areas. The tourism office is now open to the public Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) also has a new intern, Leanna Coy.
Gould said activity at Parc Natchitoches has been steady. Every weekend until August is booked. CVB group and tourism promoter Anne Cummins said there has been an uptick in inquiries from bus groups and an RV group is planning to arrive in April. The commission discussed the recent weather events and their effect on tourism. While power outages are inconvenient, water issues kept travelers away. Hotels and motels could not wash linens and restaurants could not prepare meals.
Gould stated NSU did a study and determined the football state playoffs in late December had an $8.2 million impact on the local economy. Fishing tournaments continue to be a big draw to the area. Tournaments on Cane River Lake, Red River, Black Lake and surrounding areas bring large crowds and visitors who stay overnight, shop and dine at parish restaurants.
The commission, City of Natchitoches and Red River Waterway Commission (RRWC) are prepared to sign a cooperative endeavor agreement to bring the Cabela’s King Kat Fishing Tournament here in November. In only two years, the catfish anglers organization has become the largest catfish tournament organization in the nation. King Kat Kid’s Fishing Rodeos, free for youngsters 12 and under, are conducted at every tournament site. The RRWC is hosting the tournament, the CVB is marketing the event and the City will provide the downtown riverbank area as needed.
Gould met Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. Wednesday. After the meeting she said they discussed several ideas to enhance the City. “Tourists won’t keep coming back to see the same old thing, we need to change it up,” she said.
Among the ideas, and they’re only ideas, is a monument of Clementine Hunter downtown. Gould said a monument grant is available that would pay for a monument. She suggested Hunter because she is iconic to this area, her art has been shown in the Louvre and Smithsonian and she is native to the parish. Gould also proposed rehabilitating more of the Walk of Fame tiles that used to line the sidewalk along Rue St. Denis in front of City Bank. The Steel Magnolia tiles are the only ones that have been placed. Several of the tiles depict sports figures, including Joe Dumars, Pat Listache, Jackie Smith, Dixie Debs, Stan Humphries, Bobby Hebert and Grits Gresham and she proposed placing them at Parc Natchitoches. Visitors could enjoy viewing them between games she said.
The next commission meeting will be April 20.
•The Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission dba Natchitoches Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.