Overall overnight stays and the value the visitors bring to the entire Asheville community have continued to suffer throughout the pandemic – even in October 2020, which has often been interpreted by media outlets as having the "best-ever" monthly room sales, a misleading claim.
The reality, as explained by Explore Asheville President & CEO Vic Isley during the board meeting, is that hotel/motel revenue was down 8%, a year-to-date decrease of 27%. However, vacation rentals were up 76% and bed & breakfast operations 5%, resulting in an increase in total revenue of 7% for all properties. In November, vacation rentals dropped significantly (though still higher than the year before), resulting in total room sales for all properties down by 14% from October.
The trend toward decreased hotel occupancy and increased vacation rental occupancy continued in February, with hotel room sales for the month at 44.5%, down 20.5% year over year. With February vacation rental occupancy up 20.5%, reaching 54.6%, local residents participating in the vacation rental market continue to earn more and benefit from the return of visitors to our community.
As the percentage of positive cases of the coronavirus decreases and the availability of vaccines increases, Explore Asheville is planning for a return to the marketplace later this spring. Whether travelers are dreaming of travel or ready to hit the road now, it's important for Asheville to be in travelers’ hearts and minds as we work to engage potential visitors in support of local businesses and jobs, contributing to the community’s economic recovery.