Bottle Rock adds fuel to rising Napa tourism

NAPA -- Bolstered by the recent BottleRock music festival that drew scores of visitors, hotel occupancy rates and tourism spending in the Napa Valley were up significantly in May compared with the previous year, according to Visit Napa Valley, the county's official tourism organization. 

While the music festival itself confronts claims that it hasn't paid all employees, the event nevertheless brought in excess of 100,000 visitors to the city of Napa, many of whom stayed in local lodging and spent significant dollars, said Clay Gregory, chief executive officer of Visit Napa Valley.  Combined with other efforts to attract more visitors, last May saw significant increases, he said.

"We had a tremendous month of May," Mr. Gregory said.

For the 12 months ending in May, occupancy rates were up by 3.7 percent. Average daily room rates in the same period reached $245, up 5.3 percent, while revenue per available room, or RevPar, reached $162 for an increase of 9.2 percent, according to data from Smith Travel Research.

Over the month, occupancy rates at lodging businesses were up by 9.2 percent. Average daily room rates reached $272, an increase of 10.1 percent over the month. And revenue per available room, a key indicator of income, was up by 20.2 percent over last May.

"It's huge. That's the number the hotels really look at," Mr. Gregory said.

BottleRock played a prominent role in the upswing, with most hotels having five-night minimums, meaning more stable revenues over a longer period.

"That for sure had an impact," Mr. Gregory said. "The festival itself was a huge success."

Total revenue for the 12 months ended in May reached $273 million, up 12.6 percent. Over the month, revenues were $29.2 million -- up 19.5 percent, according to Smith Travel Research.

Visit Napa Valley lobbied festival organizers to start the festival on a Wednesday instead of a Thursday, as part of its general effort to draw more visitors on weekdays and during the offseason. That had a measurable impact on the lodging, Mr. Gregory said.

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