August revenue, hotel occupancy rates indicate tourism improving in Vicksburg

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Warren County tourism officials are beginning to see some recovery in the area’s tourism industry.

“There’s definitely a pent-up demand; people are still wanting to travel safely and go places they’re comfortable with and I think people see Vicksburg as a safe place they can come and visit,” said Visit Vicksburg Executive Director Laura Beth Strickland.

And recent numbers indicate tourism is getting better.

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According to the October monthly report from Visit Vicksburg, revenue from the county’s special 1-percent sales tax received in October totaled $118,849.85, a 9.4 percent increase over 2020 and 15.6 percent over 2019.

The county levies a 1-percent sales tax on all food and beverage sales and hotel and motel room rentals in the city and county.

Sales tax disbursements from the Mississippi Department of Revenue run two months behind, so the disbursement received in October represents sales tax collected in August.

The August collections were lower than the July 2021 collections, which totaled $136,236.98; a 24.8-percent increase over the same period in 2020 and a 20.8-percent increase over 2019.

Year-to-date, according to the October report, the total sales tax revenues for 2021 represent a 17.4 percent increase over 2020 collections for the same period and 8.6 percent over 2019.

Strickland said the difference in the August and July tax revenues is not unusual.

“It’s always normal for August to dip a little bit. Usually, it’s kind of the end of summer and back to school; we see a little bit of a dip in August,” she said, adding a similar situation occurs during a period from the second week in December through January.

“People aren’t traveling as much through Vicksburg (during the period),” she said. Also, Strickland said, there was a period in August when there was a spike in COVID-19.

Sales tax revenue wasn’t the only statistic on the rise. Hotel revenue from January to September was up 16.33 percent, while hotel occupancy showed a 7.62-percent increase over the same period in 2020.

According to Visit Vicksburg’s September reports, hotel revenue from January through August was 14.3 percent more than the same period in 2020, while hotel occupancy over the same period was 8 percent more than in 2020.

The January to August occupancy was higher than the January to September occupancy number for several reasons, Strickland said.

“In June, we had several tournaments at Sports Force Parks one weekend and then we had the Miss Mississippi Pageant, so that was a big month for us as far as hotel occupancy,” she said. “The first week of June we had that big softball tournament with 2,000 people and of course, the Miss Mississippi Pageant is a huge economic driver for tourism.”

While the area’s tourism industry is still in recovery mode, Strickland said, “This year’s numbers give us a good peek into what next year could be when we hope to be really out of recovery mode and getting back to normal.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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