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Though the numbers are still coming in from June, 2019 revenues are trending upward for the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission.

The A&P Commission draws its income from a 3 percent lodging tax from local hotels and motels.

Through May, A&P tax revenue has come in at $181,269, compared to $143,200 for the same time period last year.

Monthly tax collections for 2019, with the exception of May, have exceeded the corresponding months for 2018.

In May, tax revenue came to $31,157, compared to $35,110 in May 2018.

The 2019 financial reports are falling in line with the 2018 end-of-year tally, which reflected a $27,000 increase in income over 2017 and ended a three-year revenue slump for the A&P commission.

Commissioners began 2019 with a budget of $345,473, a $26,649 increase over the 2018.

The increase in the overall, 2019 A&P budget allowed commissioners to boost funding for annual requests for proposals by $20,000, going from $140,000 in 2018 to $160,000 this year.

Commissioners have said they hope the revenue turnaround for 2019 would be sustainable.

Dianne Hammond, chairman of the commission and a member of the El Dorado City Council, said the numbers from the first five months of the year are encouraging.

Hammond and other commissioners attributed the upward trend to the openings of two new hotels in El Dorado within the past year: Candlewood Suites in February 2018 and Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott in January.

Construction is underway for a new boutique hotel — the Haywood Hotel — which will be a part of the Murphy Arts District entertainment complex in downtown El Dorado.

The 70-room hotel is expected to open in 2020.

Hammond pointed to other contributing factors, including more events that are bringing in out-of-town guests for overnight stays in local hotels.

“When these groups come to us at the first of year with these (RFPs), they show us the different events that they’re planning,” she said.

“Some of these groups, like Main Street (El Dorado), are putting on more events than the money they asked for at the beginning,” Hammond continued.

The A&P commission awarded Main Street $15,000 to promote multiple events this year.

Likewise, MAD is using the $85,000 it received from the A&P commission this year to promote multiple events.

Hammond noted that MAD’s newly-introduced Latin music series is part of an ongoing effort to diversify its entertainment offerings to reach a wider audience.

“Bob Tarren (chief marketing officer for MAD) sent out a questionnaire on Facebook and asked what entertainment people would like to see them bring in, so they’ve really stepped up,” Hammond said.

For the third consecutive year, Main Street and MAD are partnering to present MusicFest, which is set for Sept. 27 and 28.

MAD is booking the musical headliners who will perform at its entertainment complex and Main Street is planning festival activities on the downtown square.

MusicFest headliners were announced last month. They include Gone West, featuring Colbie Caillat, Walk The Moon. lovelytheband, The New Respects and RDGLDGRN (pronounced ‘Red Gold Green’).

Hammond also cited the Boomtown Opry as a contributor to the uptick lodging tax receipts.

The country-music variety show is held monthly in the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium.

“They’ve been amazing. I met someone from Dallas who came here to see a specific act at the Boomtown Opry,” Hammond said.

And while he hasn’t submitted an RFP to the A&P commission within the past few years, Michael Jackson, of Mr. Mike’s Productions and Mr. Mike’s Music and Art, presents two annual events that also help to place “heads in beds” and contribute to lodging tax receipts in El Dorado.

One, Soul Fest, was held last month and the other, the Southern Soul Showdown, is scheduled for Aug. 3.

The shows feature some of the most popular acts in blues, southern soul, funk and R&B music and they consistently draw crowds of at least 1,500 to 2,000 to the Union County Fairgrounds each year.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.

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