Restaurant and hotel tax could pay for tourism spending increase

Restaurant and hotel tax could pay for tourism spending increase

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A bill designed to give Mississippi tourism more money is alive in Jackson, the state capitol.

The Mississippi legislature is considering legislation that would designate three cents worth of existing sales tax collections from hotels and restaurants for advertising on tourism around the state.

Milton Segarra, president and CEO of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast thinks the state’s current budget of $3.8 million is not enough and more is needed to lure more people to the Magnolia State.

“Right now, we need to elevate all the different things you can do when you visit Mississippi. North Mississippi, Jackson and the Coast can tag along specific marketing and promotional efforts. [What] they can do will result in more people coming this way,” said Segarra.

The bill also creates a five member group to advise the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) on how to spend the money. That board set up to work with the MDA would be made up of three directors from local convention and visitor bureaus plus two representatives of restaurant and hotel associations.

Using revenue generated by tourism on the Coast as an example, Segarra says the $11 million raised by the proposal would be money well spent.

“An excess of 200 million dollars is being used by our counties. Not only that, tourism produces more than 32,000 direct and indirect jobs to our Coast. If you multiply that throughout the state of Mississippi, people know how important tourism is for us and the state,” according to Segarra.

Tourism leaders say Mississippi needs to become more competitive with other states in the region when it comes to selling tourism.

The bill sailed through the house and is being considered by the Mississippi Senate.

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