April events drive up tourism revenues

Staff Writer

Special events in April like Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville and the annual Pilgrimage Tour of Homes in Columbus helped drive up revenues for tourism and recreation across the Golden Triangle.

According to new state numbers, revenues from tourism taxes on hotel rooms, restaurants and bars were up in Starkville, West Point and Columbus this month compared to June 2017.

Because of the collection and reporting process, taxes collected in April aren't returned to the communities until June.
Tourism experts note events like sports at MSU and festivals and home tours in Columbus spread across the region because fans and visitors often stay in nearby communities.

Starkville received a total of $213,120 in special revenues this month, up from $205,498 last year.

The revenues are divided among recreation, Mississippi State and business and tourism promotion.

Despite this month's increase, in the last 11 months, total revenues are down slightly to $2,115,277 from $2,121,709, because the hotel tax revenues are lagging behind the same period the previous year.

West Point received a total of $49,672 this month, up 8.7 percent from $45,698 last June.

West Point splits its revenues evenly between parks and business and tourism promotion.

During the last 11 months, West Point's totals are up 2.9 percent from the previous year, growing to $494,286 from $480,171.

The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau took in $188,532 from the restaurant and bar tax, up from $173,433 last year and another $13,054 from the hotel tax, up from $8,318 in June 2017.

In the last 11 months, the CVB has received $1,957,926 in restaurant and bar taxes compared to $1,911,725 during the same period the previous year. Hotel tax revenues are down slightly to $102,191 from $107,636.`

The next two months are critical for the Columbus CVB because those are the last two months it'll receive revenues until at least next March, if not later, since the Legislature failed to extend the tourism taxes this spring. Taxes collected in May and June will be remitted to the agency in July and August but barring something extraordinary, the tax will end June 30 and the Legislature won't take the issue up again until January at the earliest.
Even is the Legislature acts early in January, the tax likely wouldn't go back into effect until Feb. 1, meaning it would be April before the revenue stream returns.

The Columbus group has said it intends to streamline staff and spending to continue operating until next year.