Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Tourism Taxes Down in June Compared to Last Year’s Numbers

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor
alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com

While Oxford’s tax numbers dropped in June this year compared to June 2019, the decrease wasn’t quite as bad as many expected.

According to Visit Oxford, the city of Oxford’s 2% food and beverage tax took in $205,558 in June, down from $242,182 in June 2019.

The 2% hotel/motel tax brought in $21,261 in June, down from $43,548 in June 2019.

Hotel occupancy for June was at an average of 40.5, down 23.1% from June 2019; however, Visit Oxford Director Kinney Ferris said there are more hospital beds available this year.

In June, there was a total of 42,284 hotel/motel beds available, up 15.9% from 2019. Demand in June was down 10.9% from June 2019. The revenue from hotels/motels was $1.4 million, down 21.2% from 2019.

“We are just now starting to see the gap decrease when comparing from last year,” Ferris said Monday.

According to the Mississippi Department of Revenue, sales tax collections for June were $776,964 down from $840,528 in June 2019.

Sale taxes make up about a third of the city’s general operating budget.

As Oxford and much of the South await news on the status of fall football games, fans in stadiums and tailgating, Ferris said Visit Oxford is planning events for off-game weekends around the Square to attract visitors even if there isn’t a home game that weekend.

“Football is obviously a major economic driver for our town and its impact will be large no matter how it all works out,” she said.

The 2% tax averages about $3 million in revenue for the city annually that goes toward projects and equipment to improve tourism. It helps fund upgrades at mTrade Park, the Oxford Conference Center and Visit Oxford. Other projects include sidewalks around the Square, ADA upgrades, street cleaning equipment, the bathrooms inside the downtown parking garage, the upkeep of Oxford’s historic museums like the LQC Lamar House and more.

The tax numbers released by MDR are generally about two months behind. Tax figures are due by the 20th of each month following the collection month and then reported about four weeks later by MDR.