The tourism fund was created in 2019 and is overseen by the Mississippi Development Authority. A recent PEER report recommends that MDA set spending levels based on quarterly collected revenue.
The Mississippi Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, or PEER, recently reviewed the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Advertising Fund. This fund is overseen by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and is funded through monthly restaurant and hotel sales tax collections.
The fund pays advertising costs for the state’s tourism efforts, including the use of internet ads and other promotional materials. These investments are overseen by a Mississippi Tourism Marketing Advisory Board (MTA), which has representation from five regions across the state: the Hills, the Delta, the Capitol/River, the Pines, and the Coast.
When it was originally created, the tourism tax was to total 1%. It was set to increase each year starting in August 2020. Since 2021, it has remained at 3% of the total revenue collected from restaurants and hotels.
Deposits have increased annually, from $3.2 million in Fiscal Year 2020 to $14.2 million in Fiscal Year 2023.
The PEER committee is required to provide an annual report on the fund, as established in the law. At the time the most recent report was provided, the committee found that roughly $14.2 million in tourism sales tax revenue was received for the Tourism Advertising Fund. This comes out to Fiscal Year 2023 deposits increasing from $12.9 million in FY 2022 to $14.2 million in 2023. However, FY 2023 expenditures also exceeded the previous year’s by $3.1 million, coming to $19.1 million in FY 2023.
The PEER committee recommended that MDA set spending levels based on quarterly collected revenue in order to retain a net-zero balance. On average, the staff spent $1 million to $1.3 million monthly in FY 2023.
According to the report, MDA’s expenditures focused on advertising Mississippi’s attractions to target markets, re-assigning marketing funds to higher performing regions, an expanded investment in culinary-focused messaging and events, as well as a decreased spending for cable television ads with an increase on streaming platforms.
This year, MDA has also worked to secure partnerships to increase international tourism marketing, improve the Visit Mississippi website and expand digital and streaming ads for local tourism destinations.
The PEER report also found that the fund was utilized to assist local communities and tourism associations with their advertising. This included sharing the cost of magazine ads, internet and websites or other media sources.
The report stated that 91% of the fund’s total expenditures were for advertising and public information while 8% went towards fees and services. The remaining 1% was disbursed between promotional dinners, receptions, banking and credit card fees as well as prior year expenses.
You can read the full report from PEER below.
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