Laurel tourism tax benefitting the City Beautiful

The City of Laurel has been working hard to find new ways to promote tourism.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 7:45 PM CST
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LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - The City of Laurel has been working hard to find new ways to promote tourism.

After an ordinance was designed it must pass the state legislature, but Mayor Magee says the credit is largely due to the community of Laurel.

Mayor Magee adds, “the citizens approved it by 73.5%, so we had an overwhelming majority of the citizens saying we want this tax because it’s going to be used for promoting Laurel through tourism,” said Magee.

The tourism tax is 3%, which affects hotels, motels, Airbnb’s and bed and breakfasts.

Hugh Stancil, the owner of the Grandiflora Bed and Breakfast, said the tax hasn’t hindered his business. He said he is glad more people are coming to Laurel.

“The inflation has impacted business but certainly not the tourism tax,” Stancil said. “Most people don’t even [notice], it’s just one of the taxes that you collect, it’s not really a problem.”

Mayor Magee says the city generated $25,000 from just hotels, making it easier to promote Laurel at state lines.

“[We] purchased two billboards, one at the Louisiana state line coming from into Mississippi from the south and one at Meridian, on I-20/I-59, ... inviting people to Laurel,” Magee said.

Magee said there is a process to make sure the tax is collected properly.

Airbnb’s and other short-term rental companies; however, are having trouble getting the new tax applied to customers’ bills. Magee hopes the department of revenue will fix the issue soon.

“We want people to be registered,” Magee said. “We want to know who has Airbnb’s operating within the city so that we will know who to collect the $250 dollar fee from in order to continue the tourism inside the city.”

Anyone wanting more information on the tourism tax and owning a short-term rental can call the mayor’s office at (601) 428-6401.

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