VisitGreenvilleSC wants more money to market coming hotel boom

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If all the new hotels planned for downtown are built, the number of rooms available in downtown Greenville in 2019 will be more than double the supply in 2015. In order to attract travelers to fill those rooms, VisitGreenvilleSC told Greenville City Council that it wants an additional $1.2 million a year.

VisitGreenvilleSC now gets $2.2 million from the city and county for marketing and has asked for $827,000 in accommodations tax money. It wants another $1.2 million in recurring funds for a total of $4.227 million, said President Chris Stone. The additional money would bring VisitGreenvilleSC up to half of what Asheville and Charleston spend on advertising to lure leisure travelers, he said.

The Yeah, THAT Greenville campaign started in 2012. Since 2011, the year before the marketing effort started, accommodations tax revenue collected on hotel rooms and other lodging has increased by 65 percent in the city of Greenville. Hospitality tax revenue, a tax added to bills for prepared food and beverages, has increased from $6.85 million in 2011 to $9.67 million in 2015. Thirty percent of restaurant sales come from visitors.

During that time, hotel occupancy has risen from 61 percent to 73 percent during the week and from 59 percent to 74 percent on the weekends. Coupled with that, Greenville’s increase in hotel occupancy, average daily rate, and hotel revenue per available room has outpaced state and national numbers.

But in 2019, Greenville County will have 765,000 hotel rooms for sale per year (2,097 rooms times 365 days), up from 313,000 a year (857 rooms per day times 365) in 2015.

Right now, 70 percent of the VisitGreenvilleSC’s media advertising is aimed at nearby markets, while 30 percent is spent in distant travel markets such as Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

VisitGreenvilleSC wants to reverse those percentages, because travelers from distant markets tend to stay longer and spend more. Stone said that with the proposed media investment plan, he expects a $494 million economic impact from visitor spending.

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