New Tourism Numbers

"I wish I could say we weren't cutting anything but we have to make cuts."

Tourism director Suzy Johnson is talking about cuts to advertising that her office has had to make this year due to a decline in revenue from the local hotel tax.

"They may be traveling a little bit to have dinner or something both they're not traveling and spending the night in the area."

Johnson says over the years much of the hotel market for Meridian has proven to come from corporate stays. With the current state of the economy and cutbacks she says this is having a ripple effect.

"You know our corporate, instead of staying or making two or three visits a month, they're only making one visit a month. Instead of staying maybe four nights a month, they're staying one night a month and so that affects us drastically."

With 18-and-a-half percent of all sales tax collected from tourists going to the local government, Johnson says this dip in the number of hotel guests ultimately leads to less money to provide upkeep for basic local services like for roads.

"A tourism tax is just a small portion that keeps our taxes from being higher."

Meanwhile, when it comes to the future Johnson says there's still a long road ahead.

"According to the Smith Travel Research which we get a lot of information from, they are being very cautious and being very realistic in their projections and they feel that we probably are not going to get this to turn around until late 2010 or early 2011."


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