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Kent County tourism continues setting visitor records

Experience Grand Rapids logo
Experience Grand Rapids
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“Tourism is on a roll.”

Doug Small is President and CEO of Experience Grand Rapids.

Kent County tourism is on a seven roll with year-over-year growth. The key metric is hotel business. Experience Grand Rapids says, “From 2015 to 2016 hotel business increased 8.7%.” For perspective, the state’s average hotel room revenue gains are 4.8 percent while the national average is 6-point-8.

“You could look at hotel occupancy. You could look at rates or whatever. But when you look at hotel room revenue it’s a combination of both and a lot of destinations can grow occupancy. You can grow occupancy just by giving your rooms away. What we’ve done is be able to grow occupancy nearly 20 points in the last nine years while at the same time building average rates.”

Small explains what’s driving the gains.

“In the business segment means you’ve got the corporate transient guest. The person that’s coming into town to do regular, everyday business, you know that’s generally driven by a solid economy. And then, the work that we do is try to attract leisure visitors and groups, conventions and such. The leisure has really gone off the charts. Our weekend business has really improved and it’s through beer tourism, the arts and culture scene, and the other great attributes of the city has driven our leisure business way up. And the group which includes sports tournaments, worked on by the West Michigan Sports Commission, combined with traditional conventions is up, too."

How is 2017 shaping up? Small is bullish projecting a 3.75 percent increase over 2016.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.