Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 25, 2013--Since losing the Executive Inn Rivermont and its 600-plus rooms, Owensboro has been slowly regaining hotel space to fill the void.
Currently, there are nine franchised hotels operating in Owensboro, with two more -- a 151-room Hampton Inn & Suites and a 120-room Holiday Inn -- being added downtown.
When they're built, they will become the city's newest hotels since the 109-room Courtyard by Marriott opened in August 2010 on Highland Pointe Drive just off Kentucky 54. Before Courtyard by Marriott, there hadn't been a new hotel in Owensboro since 2002, which was Comfort Suites on Salem Drive.
"There were nights last year -- and this year too -- when there was so much corporate travel that we had people staying in Evansville on weeknights," said Ruth Ann Dearness, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott. "With everything that is going on in Owensboro, I don't think the new hotels will hurt other hotels. We might see a drop at first, but when the convention center cranks up, it will draw a lot more people to town."
Although we've yet to see tourism figures from 2012 (2011's $295.7 million was up 9.3 percent from the previous year), hotel occupancy rates are a good economic and tourism barometer.
According to the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, total hotel revenue was up 21 percent, equating to $15 million in occupancy year receipts.
The average occupancy rate for 2012 was 57.85 percent in 2012. To find a better year, you have to go back to 1994, which had a 59.63 percent occupancy rate.
Part of the increase is being attributed to the large number of construction workers who have been staying in hotel rooms while they've been working on the hospital, convention center and other projects.
Still, the continued growth provides optimism for the two downtown hotels and tourism as a whole.
And with the success of local hotels, so usually goes the tourism dollars that come with it.
Owensboro may at times miss the large number of rooms the Executive Inn could supply.
But what we'll have in its place when it's all said and done will make up for the loss -- and then some.
(c)2013 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)
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