State, local leaders to discuss Jackson tourism tax

A meeting to discuss with the Jackson legislative delegation, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the City Council, and tourism industry stakeholders major concerns with the operation of Visit Jackson, formerly the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be held 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., Tuesday, December 18, 2018, in room 216 of the New Capitol.

A recent review of the JCVB by the Legislative Peer Committee - Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review - revealed the marketing agency tasked with promoting Jackson to increase tourism and bring in more money for the local economy underperformed in many areas and needed significant improvement.

Senator John Horhn, who is hosting the meeting, is seeking ways to save the agency and significantly improve its performance at a time when Jackson needs increased revenue streams. He welcomes every concerned citizen to give constructive input. The independent consulting firm, Destination Services, LLP, which assisted in the PEER review, will also be on hand to provide an explanation of their findings and offer recommendations for future improvements.

Among the findings of the watchdog agency was that spending at JCVB increased by $1.3 million while cash reserves plummeted in recent years. Agency officials have said they were addressing the problems pointed out by PEER. PEER also noted that the Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival, sponsored by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, lost $2.3 million between 2013 and 2016. The PEER report led to the festival being canceled in 2018. In addition, the review pointed out that the appointing authority for board members had not complied with timely appointment of industry board members.

The agency is funded by a one-cent restaurant and hotel tax that was extended for one year by passage of House Bill 1637 during the 2018 Legislative Session.

For more information, contact Horhn at (601) 662-5707.

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