Hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and other overnight accommodations in Beaufort, Port Royal and the Sea Islands saw a 5 percent increase in occupancy rates the first quarter of this year compared to 2011.
The increase more than doubles the January-March occupancy rate increase of 2 percent from 2010 to 2011, and is a positive sign of an economic rebound, said Jon Rembold, board chairman of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“Increasing the accommodations tax revenue in our area is a primary focus of the Chamber’s marketing and advertising efforts,” Rembold said. “We’re excited to see those efforts paying off. With articles and advertising about the Beaufort area appearing in publications such as Coastal Living, Southern Living, and Garden & Gun, we are looking forward to more visitors – and to some of those visitors making a decision to relocate here and enjoy the Lowcountry full time,” Rembold said.
Helping boost tourism through travel articles is one part of the Chamber’s outreach. It certainly worked for Jeff Book, author of the Coastal Living article. “Beaufort’s coastal location and small-town charm have brought it a diverse mix of people and a lot of amenities for its size,” Book said. “I’m a big fan of the Lowcountry, and Beaufort’s an excellent place to fall under its spell.”
In addition to a warm winter and possible carryover effects of the Beaufort 2011 Tricentennial, in February the Marine Corps extended by one day the graduation celebrations at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Now, families can participate in various activities at the MCRD Parris Island from Wednesday through Friday’s graduations, increasing the time many of them choose to stay overnight, eat in restaurants and shop in local stores. Recruit graduations are held almost every Friday of the year.
Occupancy rates are reported to the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce by Smith Travel Report, an international independent research company that collects and reports occupancy data for the hotel industry. The company tracks occupancy rates at 13 properties in the Beaufort and Port Royal area.
“For the Beaufort Chamber, it’s important to keep the tourism industry strong because of its very positive impacts on local businesses and the local economy,” Rembold said. “We’re seeing some immediate returns on our early investments, but we have a lot planned for the rest of 2012 and we’re confident things will continue to improve.”