The Transylvania Times -

TCT Reports Increase In Hotel Tax Funds – Transylvania County, NC

 

Last updated 1/18/2021 at 3:22pm



For a while last year, Clark Lovelace did something he never thought he would do. The executive director of Transylvania County Tourism (TCT) and the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce was telling people to not come here.

In March of last year, with the pandemic’s impact getting fully under way, Lovelace said discouraging tourism was the “right thing to do.”

Lovelace was speaking last week during the Board of Commissioners regular meeting, where he presented highlights of TCT’s annual report.

Despite the temporary tourism discouragement, TCT, which includes staff and a nine-member board, reported $966,236 in revenue from the occupancy tax for the 2019/2020 fiscal year, about 4.8 percent over the previous fiscal year. TCT’s fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30

Occupancy tax revenue has been increasing annually the past several years.

For the 2011/2012 fiscal year, occupancy tax revenue brought in $9 million. It was more than $20 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.

According to the annual report, tourism brought in $115 million to the county’s economy during 2019, another $4.3 million in state revenue, supports 9,000 jobs ($22 million in payroll), generated $5.26 million in local tax revenue and provides $272 in tax savings per county resident. The figures come from a study by the state’s tourism partner, Visit NC.

Tourism in the county has become less seasonal, Lovelace said, than 10 to 20 years ago. The winter is still “slow,” but less so than in the past, and the shoulder seasons of April and September have picked up considerably, he said. Lovelace also highlighted the following for 2019/2020:

• Airbnb collections: $248,515 (up 37. 5 percent);

•Motel/hotel/inn occupancy: 62.7 percent (down 9.8 percent); and

•Average daily rate (ADR): $152 (up 15.6 percent).

Occupancy and ADR figures are based on information supplied by “traditional accommodations,” which are hotels, motels, inns and B&Bs, with five or more rooms. They submit monthly taxes.

“Airbnb is simply a lump sum payment that is made on a monthly basis and includes any revenues collected by Airbnb that month, whether a new booking or final deposit for an upcoming booking,” according to the TCT report. “It is intended to represent the short-term rental market, in general, but it does not provide an accurate portrayal of monthly visitation.”

Through Feb. 28, 2020, of the fiscal year, occupancy revenue was up 15 percent over the previous year.

COVID-19’s impact on occupancy revenues were seen in March through May of last year, Lovelace said. By June, revenues were back to record levels, he said. A key marketing priority, Lovelace said, is to encourage people to stay longer and overnight. There is also a focus on bringing visitors here during less busy times.

Those who visit the county are typically staying in hotels, motels and Airbnbs in surrounding counties.

To get the message out, TCT is investing, more than ever, in digital advertising and marketing on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms.

During the pandemic last year, TCT provided support to local businesses, promoting being “re-sponsible” while “exploring” in the area’s public lands and how to be a “good customer” when shopping in retail stores. The Brevard/Transylvania Visitor Center on East Main Street saw fewer visitors and closed for a while, but the staff and staff, Lovelace said, “worked harder than ever” to assist all they encountered and to encourage safe visitation.

TCT was also part of Transylvania Tomorrow, an effort of local groups to support small businesses in dealing with pandemic’s impact, including providing relief funds of up to $3,000 each.

Over 90 businesses, for example, received a total of $150,000 during the initial 90-day launch.

Another $17,000 in grants were awarded, directly by TCT through its Tourism Grant Program, and special grants were awarded for Heart of Brevard advertising and $100,000 toward the proposed Ecusta Trail corridor’s purchase.

Sustainability projects, such as Transylvania Always: Leave it Better (leave no trace) and waterfall safety, are another TCT focus.

Twenty years ago, local tourism officials were simply focused on getting people to visit, while 10 years ago the focus became to have them here when the local economy needed them, Lovelace said.

The “shift now” is to go beyond those two mindsets and to work to create a “strong sustainable tourism economy that provides great benefits to the community,” Lovelace said.

For more information, go to http://www.explore brevard.com.

 
 

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