Johnson: Summer A Good One for Local Tourism

As summer winds down for some, officials say the season has been very good so far for local tourism.

Lauderdale County has enjoyed a more than 18% increase in revenues for the year. Once the fiscal year ends, tourism officials project it will have some of the highest revenue returns in Mississippi.

Tourism director Suzy Johnson credits events like State Games, performances and conferences at the Riley Center, Juneteenth and the monthly Sucarnochee Revue, which has committed to being held in Meridian for another year for the increase.

"Another highlight for the area is the Soule' Steam Festival in November, which in the past, most of the patrons have been generally from out of town," said Johnson. "This year tourism officials are asking locals to display blue ribbons of support on their mailboxes at least one week prior to it."

Johnson says tourism generated about $48,000 per month in tax revenue last year.

Johnson is also working on a project to try to boost the number of visitors. It would establish two blues markers for renowned Meridian natives, David Ruffin, of The Temptations, and his older brother, solo artist Jimmy Ruffin.

"I have finally gotten the attention of the Blues Commission, and I have been granted permission to come before them in their September meeting and with their scholars, who do the research on the markers, to plead our case," said Johnson. "I need letters of support for this. I have some already, but I need more. The more I can take before these guys and say this is what our community wants, I think we'll be more apt to get that."

So far, officials with Meridian Mainstreet, Mayor Barry and several local legislators have written letters of support for the effort.

Anyone else interested in doing so may call the tourism office at 601-482-8001.

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