Tourism numbers look good

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, May 26, 2016

If you were to look at Visit Oxford’s budget right now, it would appear the tourism office is in the red by $4,701.

However, that’s only because the state of Mississippi is often two or three months behind getting the 2 percent food and beverage and hotel/motel tax back to Oxford.

“We’re actually doing really well,” said accountant Don Wilkerson. “Quite excellent really.”

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Visit Oxford’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 31. Seven months into the fiscal year, revenue so far for the year is $430,555 and expenses are $434,757.

“It’s usually September before we show profit and everything catches up,” Wilkerson said.

The Double Decker Arts Fund is sitting with $92,707 cash. The festival brought in $291,247 in revenue and had $213,633 in expenses. A few bills are still being paid. Visit Oxford budgeted an estimated $262,000 in revenue.

“Double Decker was a real success this year,” Wilkerson told the Oxford Tourism Council after presenting the financial report on Wednesday.

Hollis Green, manager of the Oxford Conference Center, said he remembers when he and now-assistant director for Visit Oxford Kinney Ferris used to have a hard time paying the bills.

Before becoming Visit Oxford, the tourism office was known as the Oxford Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the tourism sect and the conference center were under one umbrella. About six years ago, the umbrella split and now the two operate completely apart from each other with their own budgets, although they still often work together and support each other on different projects.

“We used to look at the bills and decide which ones had to be paid and laid down the others for the time being,” Hollis said. “It’s unbelievable how far it’s come. It’s a different day with Visit Oxford.”

Ferris reported that the food and beverage figures for March were up 10 percent from March 2015, at $231,704, and the hotel/motel tax revenues were up 16 percent from March 2015, at $33,164.