Study: Platte County Tourism Rebounds | Local
Tourism in Platte County is recovering from the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an economic impact study.
The study, by Dean Runyan Associates, showed that from 2020 to 2021, sales of taxable lodges in Platte County rebounded 44.7%, shared by Kay McNeil, director of the Columbus Area Convention and Visitors Bureau ( CVB) at the regular meeting of the Platte County Board of Supervisors. June 7.
A stay in an accommodation establishment, such as hotels or Airbnbs, for less than 30 days is subject to this accommodation tax.
McNeil noted that the addition of Hampton Inn and River Land Cabins and Campground contributed to the increase. A new campground is also being established in Platte Center, which will impact next year’s numbers, she added.
Person-trips with overnight stays increased from 199,000 to 222,000, a difference of 11.3%.
“I believe in 2019… the number was 272,000. So we have room for further growth as we continue to bring people back,” she added.
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According to the study, the majority of visitors use hotels, motels or short-term vacation rentals (like Airbnbs). Visitors spent $29.2 million in 2021, an increase of 59.4% over the previous year. Travel expenditures for food services increased by $5.4 million, a 55.9% increase over 2020.
“Before collecting this month’s lodging tax, which will be the last of the year, we are $1,000 less than our highest year ever,” McNeil said. “My projection for this month is $10,000. It was the same last month and we brought back nearly 14. So tax-wise, we’re bouncing back.
The arrival of the pandemic has brought travel plans and large gatherings to a screeching halt. However, McNeil noted that, two years later, things are looking good. Just last week, the Lions Club held its 100e annual convention and the American Legion will hold a large gathering later this month, she added.
“We have gone from a very good first few months in 2020 to zero. When I started in March 2020, we had a conference before it all shut down,” she said.
Data from the study also shows a decline in travel arrangement services, which means, McNeil said, people are booking accommodation themselves rather than going through a travel service. For the type of traveler accommodation, a decrease can also be observed in visitors using a resident’s second home.
“I think if you look at inflation and the cost of homes, that might explain why people aren’t buying second homes,” McNeil said.
In the same vein, the supervisors approved the possibility for the CVB to add a communication and marketing assistant.
This would be a new full-time position that would be delegated duties related to CVB marketing and communications, which would include the monthly calendar of events, welcome packages, volunteer coordination, trade shows, design advertisements, social media marketing, website updates. , the visitors guide and primary point of contact for the Something Good app.
Available on smart devices, the Something Good app lists attractions, events and other tourist information for Platte County
“We have around 1,100 people using the app to post/find events, places to shop, places to stay, eat, drink and play at this point. This person would continue to add additional events to the app so that the app becomes more useful and promotes Platte County to residents and visitors,” McNeil said. “They would also be responsible for visitor guides, dispatching inquiries and marketing materials and maintaining this record in our database (Simpleview), also launched this year.”
At a minimum, the new employee would work from the CVB office, currently located inside the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce building, and potentially work remotely two or three days a week. The idea, she said, would be to have someone, herself or the new marketing assistant, present in the office every day, which could also include weekend hours.
Zelle, the human resources firm hired by Platte County, has set a median salary range of $18.37 plus benefits for the new position, however, McNeil noted that it has allocated up to 40 $000 in the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget for the position if the individual happens to be bilingual. One of the objectives of the CVB has been to offer promotional material in English and Spanish and the CVB will continue to work in this direction.
“The advisory committee discussed this quite extensively,” District 7 Supervisor Kim Kwapnioski said. “There was a lot of overtime put in by Katy. We also contracted many of these services that we provided in-house. So everything would be internal and we would have more, I guess, to say about it.
This will also be beneficial with the arrival of the new Casino in Columbus, the Country House, additional hotels and other attractions/projects on the horizon for Columbus and Platte County.
The advisory board discussed a year ago the possibility of hiring a second person to help her, but McNeil said she still had a lot to learn at that time before hiring someone new.
“I think I’m at a point where I can hand over some of the more menial tasks to someone and make a bigger difference by getting people to explore, play, shop and stay in Platte County,” said said McNeil. The goal is to have the position posted and a hiring schedule complete by the end of next week (June 17).
“I want to find the right solution for our communities and also for the long-term future of CVB. It’s a very exciting time in our county, so having an equally enthusiastic team is a must!”
Hannah Schrodt is the editor of the Columbus Telegram. Contact her by email at [email protected]