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Friday, June 27, 2014, 4:45 pm

Napa Valley tourism up 62% from low during recession

Visit Napa Valley will seek 10-year extension of tourism district

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    Napa County lodging revenue 2008-2013

    Napa County lodging revenue increased 62 percent in 2013 from the 2009 low. (credit: Visit Napa Valley)

    NAPA — The tourism economy in Napa Valley has significantly rebounded since the low-point of 2009, with lodging revenue having increased since then by 62 percent through 2014, according to Visit Napa Valley.

    Other local tourism figures

    Sonoma, Marin hotel occupancy rates increase

    June 30, 2014

    At its annual marketing conference Thursday, Visit Napa Valley also detailed fiscal 2014 metrics, all of which continued to point upward as the county and its official tourism arm seek further growth and branding.

    For the 12 months ending in May, hotel occupancy rates were 68.9 percent, up 3.7 percent over the year, while revenue per available room increased by 11.2 percent, reaching $183.85, according to data from Smith Travel Research. The average daily room rate was $266.79, up 7.3 percent.

    Total room revenues were up by 10.6 percent, reaching $308.2 million. The county’s transient occupancy tax was similarly up by 11 percent, bringing in nearly $37.1 million.

    “From 2009 to 2013, lodging revenue has gained in double digits every single year, which I think is pretty darn impressive,” said Clay Gregory, CEO of Visit Napa Valley. He added that occupancy rates aren’t quite at their peak level of 80 percent prerecession, but current-day Napa Valley has a much larger stock of available lodging.

    “We’re still not at quite the occupancy rate at peak, which is close to 80 percent, but there are a lot more rooms, compared to then,” Mr. Gregory said. “We’re getting there.”

    Like total lodging revenue, TOT revenues over the last six years have increased by 62 percent.

    While the numbers continue to point upward, Mr. Gregory said other metrics are just as telling, chief among them how Napa Valley is fairing against its main competing wine destinations of Sonoma and Monterey counties.

    “Over the last six years, we’ve gained 5.6 percent market share,” Mr. Gregory said. “We definitely are gaining ground.”

    Going forward, Visit Napa Valley has several key initiatives, chief among them is getting the tourism improvement district, enacted in 2010, renewed for the next 10 years.

    While already backed by the county, Mr. Gregory said a formal extension of the TID, which levies a 2 percent assessment on lodging businesses, will likely come later this summer. The TID needs a simple majority of approval from county lodging businesses. In 2010, some 72 percent of businesses supported the TID; this year, approval reached nearly 79 percent. The TID generates approximately $5.5 million used solely for tourism marketing campaigns.

    Other initiatives included the recent acquisition of the Arts Council of Napa Valley’s website, which Mr. Gregory said will help it reach a broader audience.

    “It helps us better market their members,” he said.

    Officials in Napa Valley are also stepping up efforts to attract group business to the region, which if successful would boost week-day occupancy rates. Traditionally, the Napa Valley hasn’t had the large spaces to accommodate week-day business groups, but that could be changing as more large-scale hotel and resorts are planned.

    “We haven’t talked as much about it in the past, our group sales efforts. The reason why that’s important is meetings happen during the weekdays,” Mr. Gregory said.

    To that end, Visit Napa Valley increased its group sales leads by more than 70 percent over the year, reaching out to California, New York, Texas and international markets, according to Mr. Gregory.

    Efforts to lure more visitors during the offseason winter months, now known as Cabernet Season, have continued to boost RevPAR and yearly occupancy rates. In December, for example, RevPAR in Napa County was just shy of $100 and was well above the RevPAR for Sonoma and Monterey counties in the same period, according to Smith Travel.

    Visit Napa Valley will also continue to highlight the tourism industry’s overall economic impact on Napa County, which reached $1.4 billion. The industry employs some 10,500 workers, which as of 2012 accounts for about $300 million in payroll spending and another $51.7 million in tax revenues.

    Earlier this year, Visit Napa Valley also committed $2.5 million over 10 years toward the Napa Valley Vine Trail, which will come from local TIDs, lodging and other partnerships.

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