NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) – The Natchez tourism tax is generating less revenue than expected, and that could mean a smaller marketing budget to try to lure more tourists to the city and its antebellum homes.
Officials originally expected the $2 per room hotel tax to create about $600,000 in new revenue each year. A second estimate bumped that down to $480,000 a year.
But the tax hasn’t even met the more conservative estimate. It generated $286,845 during the budget year that ended Sept. 30. That’s down from $298,558 the previous year.
Tourism director Connie Taunton tells The Natchez Democrat that the hotel tax helps pay for television, print and Internet advertising, along with promotional materials and office expenses.
Natchez plans a $370,000 tourism marketing budget during the budget year that began Oct. 1, with most of that to come from the hotel tax, Taunton said. The Natchez Convention and Visitor Bureau is to cover the rest.
“If we begin to see we are falling short, we will start making adjustments,” Taunton said.
The budget calls for about $175,000 for leisure marketing, $70,000 for African-American heritage marketing and $125,000 to attract meetings and conventions.
Natchez as a destination will likely be advertised in Southern Living, Birmingham Magazine, AAA Southern Traveler, AAA Texas Journey, At Home Tennessee, AAA Tour Book and other publications.
“You have to do AAA Tour Book,” Taunton said. “That is like the Bible for tourism.”