Proposed Meridian Hotel Development Could Boost Tourism

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Meridian, Miss. If hotel developer John Tampa gets his way, Meridian will soon be home to two new hotels, restaurants, and office space. Tampa, the President and Co-Founder of Ascent Hospitality presented plans to Meridian's City Council Tuesday night for two new Marriott hotels off I-20/59 Exit 154. Meridian-Lauderdale County Tourism Director Dede Mogollon says hotel demand has always been high in Meridian due to its location, and several other factors.

"With the Kemper County Plant providing so much demand for hotels, out numbers are sky high, and so we're leading the state in occupancy right now."

Coal plant workers take up several rooms during the week at just about every Meridian hotel, and with the plant set to be finished in the spring, that business will be gone, but Mogollon says hotel demand should still be high.

"We have a lot of business travel that comes through. If anyone is traveling for business within a 50 mile radius outside of Meridian, they'll stay here, and we here at Tourism are working on projects to increase demand after Kemper County is gone."

The Tourism Department's budget comes from a 2.5% tax applied to each booked hotel room. More hotel rooms in Meridian could lead to a bigger budget for the department, and with that bigger budget, they'll be able to do more.

"We are looking at creating a visitors' center closer to the interstate so we can capture a bit more of that interstate traffic, get them to stop, tell them a little bit about Meridian. We're also looking at a local Civil Rights Trail and Civil War Trail."

By working with Meridian and Lauderdale County officials, Tampa hopes to break ground within the next 30 days.