Reservations at half to two-thirds levels
A survey of hotels and bed and breakfast properties shows an improving number in reservations and occupancy projections after nearly two months of almost no tourism during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau officials were to have had talks on Tuesday about the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but most predicted 65-75% occupancy.
“STR — the research firm that tracks hotel lodging across the United States — found that April overall hotel occupancy (not including short-term rentals) in Fredericksburg dropped to a brutal and unprecedented low of 18%,” said Ernie Loeffler, FCVB president and CEO. “That was down from 70% in April of 2019.”
Loeffler added that March 2020 hotel occupancy was 40%, compared to 68% in March 2019.
“That’s mainly because we had one good week of spring break before the pandemic hit fully,” he said.
Loeffler said some of the high-end guesthouse complexes reported nearly 100% occupancy for the past three-day weekend.
Hotels, however, still reported 380 rooms available on Saturday night of the 1,154-room inventory throughout the county. (That call was done by CVB staff on Thursday, so some may have been filled with last-minute reservations or walk-in business over the busy weekend, Loeffler added.)
“I’m sure there were many day trippers from the region,” Loeffler said of the seemingly busy holiday weekend. “All of the peach stands were fully operational last weekend and they do attract folks who come specifically to purchase our delicious peaches and then head home.”
The FCVB conducted a local lodging survey in mid-May. The respondents, who run both hotels and short-term rentals, reported improving occupancy after just one in three rooms had been rented during the early weeks of May.
Average actual or projected weekend occupancy rates for hotels and STRs, according to respondents were:
• May 8-9 – 32%
• May 15-16 – 32%
• May 22-23 (Memorial Day weekend) – 59%
• June projections – 71% STRs, 66% hotels
• July projections – 69% STRs, 67% hotels
• August projections – 65% STRs, 56% hotels
All of that could change, of course, if the virus infection rate slows. Other vacation destinations, such as Galveston and Port Aransas, had crowded beaches as warmer weather and pent-up demand drove people out of doors.