Participant and hotel stay data for events held during Pilgrimage and other events this spring continues to trickle in, and the numbers tell a success story.
Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Nancy Carpenter reported to the CVB Board of Directors Monday that occupancy of Columbus’ 1,045-hotel-rooms was up to 79 percent on April 25 from 61 percent on that day in 2013 because the city hosted the Mississippi Seniors Tennis Tournament.
The two-day national qualifier for the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Tournament held June 6 and 7 had an economic impact of $363,000 on the area, she added.
No data from the President’s Cup soccer tournament held May 23-25 was available at the meeting.
As for events held during Pilgrimage, more than 320 people ran in the Pilgrimage Half Marathon and 5K, the inaugural installment of that event. Carpenter said she was pleased with the turnout at that particular event and hopes to grow participation next year.
“That event grossed over $14,000,” Carpenter said. “It also cost us $14,000, but at least we raised the money and it was a good place to start. Our goal next year… is to have 500 participants and raise $45,000.”
Downtown restaurants also benefited from tourism during Pilgrimage, she said. Of patrons identified as part of a touring group, 191 people ate at Huck’s, 122 at Cafe on Main and 116 at Harvey’s.
“I think there are a lot of restaurants that are probably pretty happy,” she added.
She also reported that next year’s Pilgrimage, which will be the 75th edition, will be held April 6-18 and that the event as well as the 2015 version of Catfish in the Alley have received marketing grants from the Mississippi Development Authority for $3,500 each.
Other board business:
■ The board approved financial reports for the months of April and May. In April, the CVB experienced a total income of $126,565.25 from city and county tax receipts but incurred $139,683.73 in expenses, a $13,118.48 loss. In May, the CVB saw $156,570.36 in income and had $144,340.94 in expenses, a $12,229.42 gain. Each report was approved in a 7-1 vote with the lone abstention being board member Whirllie Byrd.
■ The board approved funding requested by organizers of the Southside Heritage Foundation Summer Festival in the amount of $3,500.
■ The board voted to fund the first half, or $4,000, of Artesia Days and Caledonia Days. Each vote passed unanimously, but board member Rissa Lawrence abstained from the Caledonia Days vote because her husband, Bill, is the mayor of Caledonia.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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