Expecting increase in visitors, Danville officials to hire consultant to evaluate lodging demand in region

There were 18,914 nights spent in hotels per month in Danville in 2022-23, compared to 12,234 in 2019-20. The city saw 13,546 and 17,107 nights per month in 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively.

There are more than 850 hotel rooms in the city of Danville, with another 450 within an hour’s drive, said Lisa Meriwether, tourism manager for the Danville Office of Economic Development and Tourism.

Meriwether pointed out that there will be 500 rooms at the upcoming Caesars Virginia casino resort in late 2024 and another 40 boutique hotel rooms at the Holbrook Ross Hotel when it opens in fall 2024.

Over the next few years, new development — such as the casino resort and Riverfront Park — is expected to drive a dramatic increase in area visitation, asset development and business expansion, Meriwether said. All of that has the capacity to “positively impact every citizen, business and visitor to our community,” she said.

Also, the new Visit Sosi tourism program will also increase demand to the Dan River Region, Meriwether said.

“This will also drive demand for all sectors, including lodging, restaurants, retail and attraction visits,” she said.

The average overnight trip duration for visitors to Danville is more than three days, Meriwether said.

“While the overnight trip duration might see an increase moving forward, we do expect the total number of visitors to increase,” she added.

A recently completed tourism master plan presented to Danville City Council in July projects visitation of 2.2 million in the city in the future.

Will the inventory of hotel rooms be enough to sustain the increase in tourism to our area?

“It would be reasonable to expect that over the next few years, new restaurants, lodging, arts, entertainment and recreational assets will continue to open across the region, all supporting increased visitation to our area,” Meriwether said.

Meriwether, Bobe and others in city government are working to make sure lodging needs will be met, Bobe said.

“The Danville Office of Economic Development and Tourism is … working with several hotel developers to add new product in the market,” Bobe said.

Officials do not know how many hotel rooms Danville needs to meet current or future demand.

“The study will provide the number of hotel rooms needed in the market, so the number is not available at this time,” Bobe said.

A hotel is more than just a place to spend the night, hold a meeting or conference or enjoy a meal, Meriwether said.

“The economic impact of hotels in your community includes capital investments, operations and guest ancillary spending,” she said.

Hotels generate billions of dollars across the United States in wages, salaries and taxes. They also employ millions of workers while hotel guests bring billions in spending to local economies, Meriwether pointed out.

For each $100 spent on lodging, hotel guests spend another $220 during their trip, she said, citing figures from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

During the life cycle of a hotel including construction and ongoing capital investment, a hotel with an average of 100 occupied rooms supports 239 jobs, including 135 direct and 104 indirect jobs, Meriwether said, referring again to information from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

“This impact includes 57 direct jobs at the hotel, with $3 million of wages, salaries and other labor income,” she said. “This representative property supports $6.1 million of total tax revenue, including $2.1 million in direct taxes generated at the hotel.”

By John Crane, Register & Bee (Original Article Here)