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VCVB cuts budget 30 percent due to COVID-19 pandemic

Due to a significant drop in local tourism — the largest segment of the area’s economy — brought about by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau has moved to cut 30 percent of its operating budget. The decision was made during Thursday’s meeting of the VCVB’s board of directors meeting.   

The VCVB expects a significant drop in its revenue which is collected from the 1 percent hospitality tax on restaurants and lodging in Warren County.

The cuts include temporary furloughs to all non-management positions and a salary reduction for the executive director. Nine employees will be placed on furlough, leaving four employees left to run operations of the organization. As a quasi-government entity, the VCVB does not qualify for any relief funds to date.

“We are hopeful that these cuts will be enough to cover the projected shortfall,” executive director Laura Beth Strickland said. “The bureau is committed to actively promoting our restaurants, hotels, and tourism attractions when it is safe to travel again. We want to be prepared when our industry partners need us most. We hope that the temporary furloughs will not last long and that we will be able to resume normal operations as soon as possible.”

The mission of the VCVB is to encourage and promote tourism for the Vicksburg/Warren County area as well as to sell and market the attractions and experiences of Vicksburg as a premier destination for overnight visitation, generating sales and lodging taxes to the city and enhancing the vitality of the city by helping to sustain business and employment.

The tourism industry locally supports 4,000 jobs and generates more than $24 million in tax dollars. Visitors spend over $220 million in our museums, restaurants, hotels, casinos and small businesses, much of which have been closed due to recent business restrictions and shelter-in-place orders.