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Richmond, Virginia Area On Track for its Best Year ever in
 Hotel Occupancy; 2,000 Rooms are Under Construction
By Gail Kelley, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 19, 2007 - No room at the inn.

That would be an overstatement, but the Richmond region is on track for its best year ever in hotel occupancy, the Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau says.

According to Smith Travel Research figures for the 12 months ending in October, the latest numbers available, hotel occupancy was 65.2 percent. In the previous 12 months, occupancy was a record 62.4 percent.

Jack Berry, president and chief executive of the bureau, attributes the increase to many contributing factors.

"At the top of the list is the newly expanded Richmond International Airport with three low-cost air carriers; a convention center exceeding booking projections; participatory weekend sporting events and the region playing host to activities commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown," Berry said.

Interest in the region as a destination "is continuously growing, and with increasing gasoline costs, travelers are looking for inexpensive weekends with shorter drives," he added.

Convention bookings were forecast to finish 6 percentage points above the previous 12 months. Attendance at tourist attractions, excluding Kings Dominion theme park, was up 7.5 percentage points, the bureau said.

Of those attractions reporting attendance, 20 of 30 show increased attendance year to date.

The Richmond region, defined as the city of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico, has about 15,000 hotel rooms, the same as the previous year. But more than 2,000 rooms are under construction, all of which will be completed within the next 12 months, the bureau said.

"This increased supply of rooms will make the Richmond region even more attractive to large groups and conventions," Berry said.

"While 2007 has been a great year for the industry, we look forward to an even better 2008."

Bill Jordan, director of marketing at the Omni Richmond Hotel, echoed positive 2007 results for his establishment.

"The hotel is running one of the highest occupancy percentages the hotel has ever seen" he said. "Total hotel revenue sales are the highest the hotel has seen."

Contact Gail Kelley at (804) 775-8137 or gkelley@timesdispatch.com.

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To see more of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.timesdispatch.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.

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