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Tourism tax collects $50k in first 6 months

Brookhaven is well on its way to establishing its brand and media presence thanks to the Brookhaven Tourism Promotional Council and the recent 2 percent lodging tax that funds it.

According to a report from the BTPC, read by Mayor Joe Cox at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, the tourism council has collected $51,263.73 in the last six months.

Cox, chairman of the BTPC, said original projections indicated an annual budget of $75,000 to $100,000, based on historical data provided by the Mississippi Department of Revenue and analyzed by Mississippi Development Authority. He said at this rate, they are on track to reach their goal of hiring a marketing/branding firm to create a marketing strategy for the city using one-half to two-thirds of this year’s revenue.

“Over the past six months we’ve had five marketing firms that have made presentations to the council regarding their proposal to create a branding, advertising and promotional strategy [for Brookhaven],” Cox said. “And how to implement through multiple advertising platforms, which would be online marketing, web design, social media and print advertising … with emphasis on tourism branding.”

The council is made up of nine board members. The council has no full-time employees, contracting with an attorney and secretary-treasurer.

Cox said funds raised by the council will be used to further develop a positive image of Brookhaven and to advertise and promote tourism and events in the city. The council has one more marketing firm to meet with before they begin a grading program. Ward 6 Alderman David Phillips said he thinks they will make a decision and begin the process in May.

“We’re on track, we’re excited [about] where we’re going, and we look forward to promoting Brookhaven,” Cox said. “That’s one thing we’ve never really done is promote ourselves. These presentations from these different marketing firms have been really interesting and it’s going to be tough.”

Phillips, a member of the council, said the council has developed tourism sponsorship guidelines, what would be considered eligible and ineligible events for the council to sponsor and a tourism sponsor application.

“We’ve actually committed to help sponsor four eligible events, per our guidelines,” Phillips said. “[…] that’s how we’ll get where we’re going.”