Tourism rebounds strongly in 22 | News

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the hospitality industry here and around the world.

The local hotel occupancy rate stood at 48.2% in the first quarter of 2019.

But they fell to 38.5% a year later when the pandemic hit Owensboro in mid-March.

And occupancy rates only rose to 40.5% in the first quarter of 2021.

But 2022 sees a return to pre-pandemic levels – and even better.

Mark Calitri, chairman of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said this week that the Smith Travel Research report on Owensboro hotels shows an estimated 53.82% occupancy rate for the first quarter, well above the 2019 figure.

“We still have to create more demand, knowing that by the end of next fall the new hotel will come on board,” he said. “That’s why we have a sense of urgency to book more future groups. We don’t want occupancy to drop.

Matt Hayden is developing a 121-room Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel across Second Street from the Owensboro Convention Center, along with 79 apartments and a 250-space parking lot.

It’s a $50 million project.

“There’s a lot to be excited about,” Calitri said. “Community that collectively mobilizes is the answer to success.”

Jamie Scheffer, deputy general manager and chief financial officer of the convention center, said things are looking very good there this year.

In 2020, the convention center and Sportscenter were on track for their most successful years since the convention center opened in 2014.

Then the pandemic hit Owensboro.

And both sites had to close on March 8.

Even after being allowed to reopen, they had to follow state guidelines limiting the size of events, requiring social distancing and the wearing of masks.

When the fiscal year ended June 30, the convention center had a loss of $240,257 and the Sports Center had a budget surplus of $55,212.

Scheffer said this year should be much better.

Record pace for the centerThe convention center, he said, “is on track for a banner year in fiscal 2022. We plan to host more than 190 events, generating more than $3.2 million in revenue. gross”.

Scheffer said, “We are seeing an increase in new business, which is closer to pre-pandemic levels. Congress activity has rebounded significantly with 15 congresses planned for the current year. The new sports floor has attracted several regional tournaments to the convention center, including volleyball, basketball and futsal. “

He said, “We continue to implement our own self-promoted content to help fill the gaps on the schedule. All in all, we plan to beat the budget by over $300,000. Community partnerships with hotels, our sponsors and the CVB have been essential to the resounding success of 2022.”

Scheffer said, “The Owensboro Sports Center continues to exceed budget in fiscal year 2022. We plan to host over 55 events with gross revenue exceeding $600,000. We’ve been able to return to full capacity since the pandemic began – hosting larger events such as REO Speedwagon, Tracy Lawrence & Clay Walker, Dwight Yoakam, Bull Bash and the Third Region High School Basketball Tournament.

He said, “Multiple basketball tournaments and other special events help generate tremendous economic impact in the community. Current forecasts call for the Sportscenter to exceed its operating budget by more than $75,000.

Amanda Rogers, director of the Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department, said in February that renovations to Kentucky Legend Fields at Jack C. Fisher Park mean the city can host more tournaments that attract teams from outside of the region.

She said Fisher Park is expected to host 35 sports tournaments over 40 weeks of play this year.

That’s three more than last year, when the ball diamonds were used for 37 weeks.

In 2018, before the renovations, they were used 32 weekends.

Improvements included the creation of four hybrid synthetic turf fields, replacing the irrigation system, improving drainage issues on the field, adding batting cages, improving the practice field, l increased parking, improving the entrance to the pitch and adding seating, shade and a play area.

Now the season runs from February to November.

This week, Rogers said, “We’ve had a great start to the year. Our timelines are set for a successful return as we move away from COVID restrictions. »

More than 50 sporting eventsShe said: “All of our multiple sports tourism venues – Kentucky Legend Fields, Thompson-Berry Soccer Complex, Owensboro Tennis Complex and Moreland tennis courts, Ben Hawes Golf Course, Edge Ice Center, Rudy Mine Trails and Waymond Morris Football Complex – are programmed. for nearly 50 sport tourism events between them in 2022.”

Rogers said, “The City’s investment in these locations is intended to support our local economy and provide opportunity for our citizens. I am excited for the year ahead and welcome thousands of athletes from all over.

Ross Leigh, Daviess County Parks Manager, said, “2022 is shaping up to be a very busy year for Daviess County Parks and Recreation.

He said the list includes competitive travel ball tournaments at Panther Creek Park, the Professional Disc Golf Association events hosted by the Daviess County Disc Golf Association as well as the three National Sporting Clay Association “Classic Events” hosted. at the Daviess County Gun Club.

Other events include ROMP at Yellow Creek Park in June, the Corvette Lovers Vette Club Car Show in July, the Independence Bank Fireworks Event at Panther Creek Park on Labor Day weekend, and Christmas at Panther Creek in December.

Tim Ross, Director of Public Events for the city, said, “Thanks to the focused efforts of many groups, 2022 is shaping up to be a terrific year for our conventions and sport tourism, which is having a significant impact on our local economy.

He said: “Our community can look forward to a busy year with great events including the Growing BBQ Party, Friday After 5th, American 4th of July, Owensboro HydroFair, 12 Days of Christmas Activities at the Center -city and dozens of major events throughout the year.”

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