New figures from the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division show how important tourist dollars are to our state and local economy.
Visitors, all 20.8 million of them, spent $5.97 billion in our state in the last fiscal year. That’s $16.4 million per day, $681,740 an hour or $11,632 a minute. Mind boggling, isn’t it?
We have 82,000 people employed in the tourism and hospitality industry in Mississippi, which makes travel and tourism the 5th largest employer in private statewide employment. It accounts for 7.5 percent of all non-farm jobs in the state.
What does all this mean to our tax revenues? It provides $438.4 million in travel and tourism state tax revenue and fees and another $383.1 million to the state’s general tax fund. Travel and tourism saves each Mississippi household $393 in state taxes.
At the city and county level, the travel and tourism tax and other taxes on hotels and restaurants provides $149.2 million a year.
“A strong tourism industry is essential to the growth and stability of the state’s economy,” said Mary Beth Wilkerson, director of the Development Authority’s tourism effort. “We must continue to work diligently to promote the state’s abundant resources, attractions, events and talent to keep visitors coming—and returning—for both leisure and business travel.”
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we support a comprehensive marketing plan for tourism in our city and county. It’s also why we stress the importance of recruiting more restaurants, including national chains, to the exits along Interstate 22 (U.S. 78) in our community.
Putting our best foot forward every day helps keep our visitors coming and our local taxes low.