In August, hotels, rentals, etc. generated $ 54.2 million in sales.
ASHEVILLE – The surge in sales of hotels and other types of accommodation in Buncombe County has broken a new record despite the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August, hotels, vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts generated $ 54.2 million, according to data shared at a meeting of the Buncombe Tourism Development Authority on October 27. That’s the highest on record for this month, reaching 31% above $ 41.1 million in August 2020.
It is also the third highest amount for a month and follows a record $ 56.7 million in June and $ 65.1 million in July.
Last week, TDA officials said they did not yet know the September figures. But October hosting revenues are expected to be the highest yet, they said.
The sales trend “far exceeds previous years,” county CFO Don Warn told TDA members at the last meeting.
But there has been little discussion of historic highs. HP Patel, newly appointed to TDA by the Buncombe Board of Commissioners, appeared at the meeting, saying he had opened a fourth hotel, Tru by Hilton, in April, “which was a good time for business and Asheville “.
“So summer has been great and continues to be great until fall,” Patel said.
The incredibly high sales come amid continued calls from many residents to cut tourism and redistribute the lodging tax, which is also breaking records, bringing in $ 27 million in the fiscal year ending June 30.
Three quarters of the tax is used for tourist advertising. A quarter goes to projects intended to stimulate hotel activity but which can also benefit residents and have included greenways and sports fields. Many residents and the city council, which had banned new hotels for 17 months, called for less advertising and for money to go directly to utilities.
Officials at TDA, the government body made up mostly of hoteliers who control the tax, now say they support the change. But legislative efforts to effect change have stalled in the General Assembly.
Falling occupancy rates, however, may make the TDA less enthusiastic about reducing the portion of the tax going to marketing.
Of the $ 54.1 million in August sales, $ 33.3 million was from hotels and $ 19.5 million from vacation rentals sold on platforms such as Airbnb. The remaining $ 1.4 million was generated by traditional bed and breakfasts.
The biggest growth came from vacation rentals, as tourists flocked there during the pandemic.
Vic Isley, CEO of staff and day-to-day operations at TDA, noted that hotel occupancy rates in September had climbed to 75%. It was above 73% in the “baseline” year of 2019 and above 60% for September 2020 during the pandemic, Isley said.
Vacation rentals were at 64% in September 2019, then jumped to 74% in 2020 and dropped back down to 70% last month.
But so far this year, hotel occupancy rates were still down compared to 2019. That was when 73% of rooms were occupied on average from January to September. During those same nine months in 2020, the occupancy rate was 45%. This year it was 66%.
“This is still not the case compared to the 2019 baseline year,” Isley said. “So something to keep in mind as we look at some really solid numbers on the revenue side… both in terms of hotel revenue and continued vacation rental growth.”
Isley did not provide any vacation rental occupancy for the period or explain how hotel rooms or vacation rentals added to the market affected occupancy.
Joel Burgess has lived at WNC for over 20 years, covering politics, government and other news. He has written award-winning stories on topics ranging from gerrymandering to police use of force. Help us support this type of journalism with a subscription at the Citizen Times.