Tourism thriving in Oxford

Published 10:34 am Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thanks to visitors who eat and shop while in Oxford, households in Lafayette County saw a tax relief of $761 because of funds raised from the 2 percent food and beverage and hotel/ motel tax.

Kinney Ferris, assistant director of Visit Oxford, presented some “bragging” numbers to the Oxford Tourism Council Wednesday on newly printed Economic Impact Cards that Visit Oxford produces during National Tourism Week.

The numbers showed tourism — and the tax revenue tourists generate — continue to grow.

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“That means if we didn’t have visitors contributing, it would have cost homeowners an additional $761 to pay for the things we have here,” Ferris said. “A lot of cities don’t have the things Oxford has. Leaders probably wouldn’t raise taxes to get those things, but we just wouldn’t have them and some of what the 2 percent money goes toward are things that make Oxford special.”

Ferris said the $761 figure is derived by dividing the 2 percent tax collected by the number of households in Lafayette County, according to the U.S. Census.

Things funded by the 2 percent tax in the past include the Conference Center, FNC Park, Square landscaping, equipment to keep the Square clean, the new outdoor community pavilion and more. If not funded by the tax, they could have been paid using the city’s general fund, or just not created.

Tourism up $24M

Oxford visitors spent nearly $154 million in Oxford and Lafayette County during the 2016 fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The numbers come from the Travel and Tourism Economic Contribution Report, Mississippi Department Authority Division of Tourism and the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2015, visitors spent $135 million in Oxford.

There are 2,000 jobs in Oxford currently in the travel and tourism industry, up 200 jobs from Fiscal Year 2015.

“We’re proud to know our office is helping to generate these funds,” Ferris said.

Capital investments in Oxford were almost $22 million in 2016, up nearly 5.2 million in 2015. Investment figures are based on new hotel construction, renovation of current hotels, restaurants and retail stores.

The hotel/motel tax brought in $450,993 in 2016 and the 2 percent food and beverage tax brought in $2,939,736, up 14 percent from 2015.