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City voters will have a chance to capitalize on tourism with new restaurant and hotel tax

Vicksburg’s economy is an eclectic mix of merchants, oil and river. However, just as important to our economy as those industries is tourism.

Here in the middle of National Travel and Tourism Week, we are reminded of the important role we all play in bolstering tourism here. and the tourism dollars that benefit us all.

Our national military park alone is responsible for bringing $40 million a year to Vicksburg’s economy. Add to that the dollars left behind by tourists who visit here via riverboats and those who come to see our antebellum homes or eat in our amazing restaurants, or who come to attend conventions and other meetings in our convention center, or who come to cheer on their favorite Mississippi girl in the annual Miss Mississippi pageant and we have a significant portion of our area’s economy — revenue and jobs — tied directly to tourism.

An estimate from Mississippi Development Authority in 2010 was that almost 4,000 Vicksburg area jobs are directly tied to tourism.

We in Vicksburg are blessed because of our location on the Mississippi River and our abundant natural resources. Further, arguably no other place in Mississippi has the rich history and historic assets of our community.

And the future of tourism in Vicksburg is bright. When the city completes its long-awaited sports complex and executes a plan to renovate our riverfront area, tourism dollars to our community could grow further.

When you go to the polls on June 6, you will be asked to approve a small tax levy on restaurant meals and hotel stays to support the construction of a sports complex in Vicksburg. No one likes to pay taxes, but this one is small and will paid in large part by those visitors who spend time in our hotels and restaurants. Remember the enhanced dollars that a sports complex would bring to our community, and vote to move ahead with the sports complex.

And when you encounter a tourist, please make them feel welcome. Their time in our community is helping make our economy a strong one.