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Experience Columbus Releases First-Quarter Visitor Industry Report
5/17/2012
Coming off the heels of a rebound in 2011, the visitor industry continues to grow through the first three months of 2012. Interest in Columbus is reaching all-time highs, with several national conventions and sporting events committing to the capital city in the first quarter of the year. Hotel performance indicators also continue to climb over last year.

In the first quarter of 2012, Columbus hosted nine annual large groups, including six state associations. The city also played host to seven OHSAA State Championships, three NCAA Championships, the Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting and the USA Swimming Grand Prix. Short term bookings for small to mid-sized groups also increased as did individual business travel.

Future bookings look promising as well. Through March 31, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission booked future business accounting for 91,237 room nights and hosted 55% more site visits from interested meeting professionals looking at Columbus as a destination. Groups booked in the first quarter of 2012 include the American Society for Engineering Education's Annual Conference and Exposition for 2017, with an expected attendance of 4,000 and the NHL All Star Weekend for 2013, with an expected attendance of 140,000 including 20,000 visitors.

Additionally, more visitors are seeking information on Columbus as a destination than ever before. Information inquiries made by visitors to Experience Columbus were up 154% over the same time period in 2011 and visits to ExperienceColumbus.com were up 27% and at their highest levels ever.

"We are working hard to build Columbus national profile and the city is clearly gaining respect as a place for meetings, events and leisure," said Paul Astleford, president and CEO of Experience Columbus. "Hosting events like the 2012 EcoSummit this fall and the NHL All Star Weekend in 2013 continue to raise our profile as a national and international destination."

According to a Smith Travel Research Report, from January 1 through March 31 of 2012:
  • Columbus area hotels had an average occupancy rate of 56.2%, up 5.8% YTD.
  • The average of 12 leading cities in Columbus' competitive set over the same time period was 55.5%. The national average over the same time period 56.8%.
  • The average daily rate at Columbus area hotels was $84.66, up 5.6% YTD.
  • The average of 12 leading cities in Columbus' competitive set over the same time period was $91.43.
  • The national average over the same time period was $103.54. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) at Columbus area hotels averaged $47.61, up 11.9% YTD. *(RevPAR is the industry standard by which hotels measure their profitability/fiscal success)
  • The average of 12 leading cities in Columbus' competitive set over the same time period was $51.20. The national average over the same time period was $58.78.
As a result of the increase in occupancy and daily rates, hotel/motel bed tax collections recovered as well, up 18.23% YTD through March 2012 with total collections coming in at $6.5 million, according to reports from the Office of the City of Columbus' Auditor Hugh J. Dorrian. These funds support not only Experience Columbus, but also cultural and arts programs, social services, affordable housing programs and the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority.

"We continue to see growth in all sectors, but still have a long way to go to close the gap on our competitive set in the national marketplace," said Astleford. "With the visitor industry currently representing 10% of the local economy and supporting some 62,000 jobs, we have an opportunity to play a significant role in Columbus' renaissance by continuing to market and sell the capital city as a national destination. The potential for growth of the tourism and hospitality industry here in Central Ohio is huge."

As the convention and visitors bureau for Ohio's capital city, Experience Columbus' mission is to sell, market and promote best of the destination to visitors. For more information about all Columbus has to offer for leisure visitors, sports, meetings, conventions and trade shows, go to www.experiencecolumbus.com or call 800-354-2657.


Contact:
Taylor.Ray@Fahlgren.com






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