NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — Downtown business owners in Natchez say the return of the American Queen has been a royal help to their stores.
The Queen docked in April, May, June, November and December last year. City sales tax collections were up all of those months, as much as 9.5 percent in May.
City Clerk Donnie Holloway said he could not break the numbers down to say definitively that the increase was because of the Queen, but the hundreds of visitors certainly did not hurt sales taxes, he told The Natchez Democrat (http://bit.ly/WWpLgW ).
When the boat is in, business goes up at Darby's Everything Under the Sun, said owner Darby Short. Darby's candy is a popular purchase for steamboat passengers, she said. She says they sometimes buy clothing, too, if they expected it to be hot and the weather is cold.
However, Old South Trading Post owner Jonathan Wood said the steamboat doesn't boost his sales because the store is not on the tour bus route.
The steamboat's passengers can either pay extra for a history tour of Frogmore Plantation or a cooking lesson and a tour of Twin Oaks from local chef Regina Charboneau, who oversees the boat's cuisine, or take a "hop on, hop off" tour bus included in the cruise fare. Its stops include the NAPAC Museum, Magnolia Hall, Rosalie, Stanton Hall, the William Johnson House and other downtown attractions.
"It gives guests a free way to get around downtown, as well as see the favorite destination in town," Batson said. "Guests can hop off and know in 15 to 20 minutes, a bus is going to be around to get them at one of the designated stops."
Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/