Tax numbers show uptick in hotel business

Hotel and travel professionals cautiously are celebrating the first year-over-year improvement in Grand Junction lodging-tax revenue since December 2008.

July lodging-tax collections, which reflect hotel business during June, totaled $134,061. That’s a 4 percent increase over July 2009.

Lodging-tax revenue can reflect an increase in prices or hotel guests. Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau Division Manager Barb Bowman said she heard from local hotels that the numbers show more people came to town in June, especially during the Ride the Rockies cycling event.

Bowman said she hopes the momentum will continue with Rock Jam later this month and Colorado Mountain Winefest in September.

“I wouldn’t say we’re feeling bullish, but we’re feeling encouraged,” Bowman said.

Business was slow for Quality Inn General Manager Rick Martindale earlier this summer, but he said business picked up in recent weeks. Martindale said the low number of families traveling is disappointing, but his hotel at 733 Horizon Drive is filled with business people.

Lodging taxes and hotel visits began to fall early last year after two record years in Grand Junction, in part because of a dissipating number of gas field workers staying in Mesa County hotels. Martindale said he is seeing some clients he had two years ago from the energy sector return to his hotel.

“It wasn’t the volume it was in 2007 and 2008, but it’s coming back again,” Martindale said.

A few developers are banking on the hotel industry bouncing back in Grand Junction. A Candlewood Suites hotel is under construction near 24 Road, and a Holiday Garden Inn has been planned for a neighboring plot. Brothers Steve and Kevin Reimer, who own Hampton Inn at 205 Main St. and Main Street Suites at 225 Main St., hope to open a SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel next spring across the street at the northwest corner of Third and Main streets.

Bowman predicted longer-term guests will flock to the Candlewood Suites, while business travelers attending a meeting at Two Rivers Convention Center would more likely stay in the nearby SpringHill Suites.

Bowman said she will travel to Denver this week to drum up business for the convention center, and she hopes that stirs business at the new downtown hotel.

The visitor and convention bureau hasn’t given up on tourists filling hotels, Bowman said. Unique visits to the bureau’s website grew 1.8 percent year-over-year in July. The number of out-of-state visitors to the area was up 6 percent year-over-year last month. The bureau in July mailed more than six times the number of brochures it mailed in July 2009.

Not every figure was a positive one, though. Visits to the visitor center dipped 5 percent in July 2010 compared to July 2009, in-state visits fell 14.4 percent year-over-year, and international visits dropped 27.3 percent in July compared to the previous July.


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