Wood County hotels see increase in overnight stays for 2018

Photo by Jess Mancini Wood County Commissioner Jimmy Colombo, center, positively reacts Thursday morning to a report from Mark Lewis, president and CEO of the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, of increased overnight stays in hotels in Wood County. More stays mean additional revenue for tourism marketing from the hotel room tax. To the left is Commissioner Bob Tebay and to the right is County Administrator Marty Seufer.

PARKERSBURG – Overnight hotel stays in Wood County for the first half of 2018 increased nearly a third over the same period last year, representatives with the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau said Thursday.

“I come here today with some good news,” Mark Lewis, president and CEO, said.

Lewis and bureau marketing specialist Hannah Duffield appeared before the Wood County Commission Thursday morning with an update of the hotel numbers and the subsequent increase in revenue from the hotel-motel room tax.

The additional funds will mean additional marketing efforts to draw more people here and increase overnight stays in hotels, according to Duffield. The aim is to develop a base for when the oil and gas industry is no longer fueling the increase in overnight stays.

“We’re really excited with this increase,” she said.

The bureau, which attempts to track room nights, in 2017 counted 94,456 room nights sold, Lewis said. At the end of June this year, room stays totaled around 124,000, an increase of more than 30 percent, he said.

“This year’s we’ve really seen a leap,” Lewis said.

While the increase is still attributable to the oil and gas industry, the bureau also has seen more business travel and leisure travel, Lewis said.

The travel numbers have seen highs and lows over the past few years, according to Lewis. While 2014 looked good, a reduction in oil and gas activity occurred at the end of 2014, which resulted in a significant decline bottoming out in mid-2016, he said.

Stays have steadily increased since then and that appears will continue into the foreseeable future, Lewis said.

“This is not a bubble about to burst,” he said.

Revenue wise, through the end of July the bureau has realized an increase of $31,653 in its share of the hotel tax revenue from county facilities, Lewis said. Adding the hotels and motels in the cities of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, the additional revenue to the bureau was $45,259, Lewis said.

The extra money will allow the bureau to expand its marketing efforts, he said. The bureau plans an additional brochure rack at the airport in Wood County, a welcome sign at the airport, expansion of marketing in the Central and Northeast Ohio regions and working with the West Virginia Division of Tourism on radio and TV advertising.

The bureau also will step up its blog posts, Duffield said.

“We’ve tried some new things this year,” Lewis said.

Commissioner Jimmy Colombo, a former mayor of Parkersburg, cited the number of filled parking spaces at the TownePlace Suites, the site of the former Uptowner Inn in Parkersburg.

“They’re pretty daggone busy,” he said.

Commissioner Bob Tebay asked Lewis if he had attendance numbers for Blennerhassett Island, to which the numbers were unavailable. However, visits to Henderson Hall were up 40 percent with more bus tours and walk-in customers from in-state and out-of-state, Lewis said.

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