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Seratt: Tourism remains big business for area

Tourism brought in more than $203 million to the local economy in 2016 and supported 4,000 local jobs according to projections by the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

VCVB executive director director Bill Seratt served as the guest speaker at Thursday’s monthly Chamber of Commerce Luncheon and provided an update on tourism in Vicksburg.

“The mission of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau is simply to get as many people to Vicksburg and Warren County as we can,” Seratt said. “Our goal is to put as many heads in beds as we can and to get as many people as possible to our attractions.”

In 2017, Vicksburg expects 103 riverboats to dock in town carrying 25,934 passengers, up from 75 dockings with 20,649 passengers in 2016. They also have 113 dockings already scheduled for 2018.

“We had visitors from over 45 foreign countries with the U.K., Canada Germany, Australia and the Netherlands,” Seratt said. “We had over 2 million visitors in 2016 and 640,000 or more of them stayed in our hotels.”

As tourism in Vicksburg grows, Seratt said they are working to meet the demands for the type of activities tourist of all ages are looking for.

“We are living in an experience economy so this experience aspect is so important,” Seratt said.

This has included offering more walking paths downtown, increased opportunities for bicycling and kayak excursions and promoting haunted Vicksburg.

“There is a huge interest in ghost tours,” Seratt said. “We joke in the office that there is a new ghost born in Vicksburg every day. Ghosts are very highly marketable. People are fascinated with that experience.”

The VCVB has also worked to develop three avenues in which to sell Vicksburg to potential visitors —American History, Mississippi Music and Southern Charm.   

“From those three content buckets, we are able to speak to many different audiences,” Seratt said. “The music program and content development that we’ve done is helping drive millennial traffic to Vicksburg. As in any cultural heritage destination, we tend to get an older visitor. This is helping us cultivate the next generation of traveler.”

To help reach a younger audience, the VCVB has started using more social media outreach, redesigned its website and developed a series of videos to help sell all Vicksburg has to offer including the National Military Park, casinos and new resturants.

The VCVB manages four visitor information centers in Vicksburg and provides information to tourists, licensed guides and more.

For more information on the VCVB and all Vicksburg has to offer, you can visit visitvicksburg.com.