Owensboro seeing hotel occupancy improving- visitors are following safety protocols! #MaskKentucky

Hotels across America saw their worst quarter in history between April 1 and June 30, STR, a company that monitors the hospitality industry, said this week.

The average occupancy rate for the second quarter was 33.5%, the report said.

That improved in June to 42.2%

In Owensboro, things are starting to improve, a report for the Kentucky Association of CVBs shows.

The report says Daviess County had a 49.8% occupancy rate last week — down 29.5% from a year ago.

But still, half the rooms were filled.

Only Elizabethtown at 55.5% and Paducah at 52.8% did better.

Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the report is better than he expected.

Since Owensboro isn’t on an interstate — other than the northern end of I-165 — it relies on sports events, festivals and conventions to fill hotel beds.

And it’s been months since the city has had any of those.

Calitri said this summer local hotels are relying on leisure travel.

He said STR predicts that demand for hotel rooms will be down 36% this year.

“They don’t expect hotel demand nationwide to return to 2019 levels until 2023,” Calitri said.

He added, “We might have to accept the fact that large groups might not return in 2020.”

The CVB finished fiscal year 2020 with an income from its 3% tax on hotel room rentals at $678,397 — down 7.34% from last year’s $732,127.

“It certainly could have been worse,” Brian Smith, CVB board chairman, said Tuesday.

He said, “The government clamping back down makes me pessimistic. It’s going to be very late in 2020 if there’s a recovery this year.”

Jared Bratcher, the CVB’s sports marketing director, said it feels like “we’re swimming with our arms and legs tied.”

He said, “We’ve rescheduled some events three times and still can’t have them.”

The city has completed its project of putting artificial turf on all the ballfields at Jack C. Fisher Park, work that is expected to attract bigger tournaments to the city.

“I was looking forward to a big August,” Bratcher said. “But now, it’s gone.”

But most tournaments scheduled for Owensboro this summer have been rescheduled for 2021, he said.

“We should have a ton of big events next year,” Bratcher said.

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301, [email protected]

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301