Jackson Co. business owners, tourists weigh in on new occupancy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson Co. business owners, tourists weigh in on new occupancy tax

Amanda Mavar-Schmidt owner of Paddles Up and Paddleboard Rentals and Sales said she hopes the CVB will ask for input from business owners on how to attract more tourism to Jackson County. (Photo source: WLOX News) Amanda Mavar-Schmidt owner of Paddles Up and Paddleboard Rentals and Sales said she hopes the CVB will ask for input from business owners on how to attract more tourism to Jackson County. (Photo source: WLOX News)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Seven thousand dollars, that's how much Jackson County's new hotel-motel tax is expected to generate yearly. The measure passed Tuesday night. The money will be put in a tourism promotion pot to help market south Mississippi as one big destination spot. Some folks wonder if the county actually benefits from this regional effort.

Louisiana resident Janice Bernard booked a large group to stay at the Gulf Hills Hotel in Ocean Springs this week. She applauds the county for passing a two percent occupancy tax.

“As compared to other facilities in New Orleans, this is a good buy. The 2 percent doesn't make us any difference. We come for the quality,” Bernard said.

Over at LaQuinta Inn in Moss Point, some folks had mixed reactions.

The thousands of dollars produced from tax bump will be put in the hands of the Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Jackson County's representatives said it will be a few months before the tax even shows up on hotel and motel bills.

“It is going to take until October to gear up to start collecting the tax and we will actually start receiving the money in December. We are already trying to work with the financing committee with budgeting that, but it is mainly going to be used for advertising,” said Chenoweth.

The advertising will take a regional approach to show what Jackson County, as well as Hancock and Harrison Counties have to offer.

“I just hope that representatives from Jackson County put it to good use,” business owner Amanda Mavar-Schmidt said.

Mavar-Schmidt owns Paddles Up and Paddleboard Rentals and Sales in Ocean Springs and wants Jackson County to get the best profit from this deal. She would also like the CVB to get more input from business owners.

“They need the feedback from the people that are out in the trenches doing the work. The people that talk to the tourists on a daily basis," she added.

Chenoweth understands those concerns, but believes the county is investing in a brighter future.

“If I thought Jackson County was going to be lost, I wouldn't be on the board. I see nothing but great possibilities,” said Chenoweth.

Around 71 percent of voters in Jackson County voted for the tax hike. That's 2,650 votes.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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