Let tourists pick up marketing tab

Published 12:05 am Thursday, February 7, 2008

No one likes taxes, but they’re easier to swallow when they have a specific purpose and when only those who benefit pay the tax bill.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen is considering seeking legislative approval to put a $1 per bed tax on hotel rooms and a half-percent tax on restaurants in the city.

The funds generated would go toward promoting tourism and marketing.

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For most reasonable people, a tax is worthwhile if they believe in the purpose for which the tax is imposed.

In many communities, for example, taxes are levied for all kinds of community projects that have huge community support, among the most familiar is a tax bond issue to build a new school.

That’s a tax that has tangible results: pay the tax, see the new school built. It is simple and easy.

Creating a tax for marketing is a tougher sell. The results are far less tangible than a shiny new school.

Unfortunately, the proposal on the table is one that would affect both tourists and locals and that’s a mistake.

Few locals will worry too much about the hotel tax. And few out of towners would bat an eye at the tax.

But the restaurant tax hits locals and tourists alike.

Members of the board of aldermen are mulling over the issue and considering options.

We think they would be wise to consider eliminating the restaurant tax entirely and doubling the hotel tax. Anyone who has stayed in a hotel lately knows that most of them charge $1 or more for a soft drink from a vending machine.

Adding two soft drinks worth of tax on the bills isn’t going to ruffle a feather locally. And, more important, it will help tourists pay for the tourism marketing. That’s a tax with which most local taxpayers can probably live.