Jackson Co. to vote on hotel, motel tax to support tourism

Jackson Co. to vote on hotel, motel tax to support tourism

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County hotel and motel stays could soon be more expensive. The county board of supervisors agreed Monday to hold a special election in two months so voters can decide on a two percent occupancy tax. The tax will pay for tourism promotion.

Should the price to check in and out of the 2,800 hotel and motel rooms in Jackson County cost visitors two percent more? That's the big decision voters will soon have to make.

"We have the support of the cities. They are on board with this. This is something that we have to do to stay part of the tri-county tourism effort," Supervisor John McKay said.

"We have gotten to first, second and third base with all that support, and now we need voters to help us hit a home run," Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitor's Bureau Executive Director Renee Areng said.

CVB said that money would go directly toward promoting and marketing South Mississippi. Harrison and Hancock Counties already pay the same two percent occupancy tax.

"We think the tax would generate between $600,000 and $700,000 a year, and if you look at the market research, it shows that for every dollar spent on tourism advertising, about $6 or $7 comes back in when people visit here and spend money," County Administrator Brian Fulton said.

Richard Chenoweth owns the Grand Magnolia Suites in Pascagoula. He supports the proposed tax.

"I travel around the country a lot, and everywhere I go, I pay extra taxes on my room and on food and stuff like that. We are lagging behind, because we don't have that," said Chenoweth.

Audubon Center Director Mark LaSalle agrees. He believes the extra marketing from the tax could shine a spotlight on his new nature facility going up in Moss Point.

"It is a $2.3 million facility that supports nature tourism," said LaSalle.

LaSalle hopes people get out and vote.

"They just have to come out and vote," he said. "We really got to get people out."

The special election will take place June 23. The county needs 60 percent of voters to say yes for the two percent tax to pass.

Jackson and Hancock Counties currently have three members on the tri-county tourism board. Harrison County has nine members.

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