‘Return to normal’: Vicksburg tourism coming back from pandemic effects

Published 3:55 pm Thursday, March 10, 2022

Tourism in Vicksburg is starting its return to pre-COVID numbers, according to information included in the recently received Vicksburg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s year-end report.

“You can definitely see a return to normal from the 2021 numbers,” VCVB Executive Director Laura Beth Strickland said. “We are almost there.”

The report covers tourism activity in Vicksburg during the bureau’s fiscal year, which runs from January to December.

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According to the report, an estimated 1.836 million people visited Vicksburg during fiscal year 2021, with 408,200 of them touring the Vicksburg National Military Park, 73,000 visiting the city’s museums and 30,022 stopping at the bureau’s Visitor Information Center. Of the 1.8 million visitors stopping in Vicksburg, 1,278 were international visitors.

Revenue from the special 1-percent tourism sales tax on food and beverage sales and hotel room rentals totaled $1,433,165.54 fiscal 2021; a 17-percent increase over 2020 and a 9-percent increase over 2019.

Sales tax collections for December, the final month of the fiscal year, totaled $114,202; a 15.8-percent increase over 2020 and a 9.3-percent increase over 2019.

Hotel revenue was 17.99 percent over 2020 and hotel occupancy was up 7 percent from the previous year.

Visitors to the Vicksburg-Warren County area spent $222,126,822 in 2021, $45,374,075, or 25.67 percent more, than the $176,752,747 spent in 2020. Tourism-related taxes and fees totaled $25,923,984 in 2021; $5,085,946, or 24.41 percent more than the$20,38,038 spent in 2020.

Strickland said visitors continued to tour the Military Park in 2020 and 2021 despite the park visitor center, the Cairo Museum and some sections of the park being closed.

“In 2020, a lot of the park was closed,” she said. “We were excited when it was reopened. People were ready to come and see the military park.”

Besides the visitors coming into the city by car or tour bus, Vicksburg had 133 riverboat dockings in 221 with 391 riverboat group tours. Strickland said there were 45 cancelations because of low water or COVID-19 during 2021, as opposed to 154 in 2020.

“That’s a big difference,” Strickland said.

“Everything is looking very good; later this month the (Mississippi Organization of Associate Degree Nurses) conference will be back, and that is an indicator that tourism is back and we’re just glad that we are able to offer our visitors everything that makes Vicksburg a good destination,” she said.

“We’ve got the message out that we are open and that we’re still that great destination,” Strickland added. “You can come see history and culture and see the Mississippi River; we’ve got a lot to offer.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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