Savannah tourism leaders reflect on 2021, look ahead to new year

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 6:39 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Joe Marinelli, the president of Visit Savannah, says of the hotels he’s spoken to this week in Savannah’s Historic District, most are reporting occupancy rates in the high 80′s, which is right on par for this time of year.

“Savannah has always been fortunate to do very well the week between Christmas and New Year’s. A lot of friends and family in town, and of course this year, with all the other pent up demand and so forth.”

If you’re staying downtown this weekend for the holiday, rates at some hotels we looked at range anywhere from the mid to low-300′s to mid-600 dollars a night.

Marinelli said, “Yeah it is an indication of how things have bounced back. But we also have to be wide open to the notion that January is annually one of our traditionally slower times of the year.”

Michael Owens, President and CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council, says the tourism and hospitality industry is recovering, but not recovered. Owens adds, however, Savannah is in a better position than many competing markets.

“We’ll finish in revenue, in a total market revenue, very close to 2019...which was the best number. But the truth is, we’re still down about a million visitors,” said Owens.

Owens explained looking ahead to next year, there are factors that could affect the tourism and hospitality industry here locally, like inflation.

“The thing about inflation or federal policies is they don’t affect anybody until they affect anybody. And eventually, if they stay, they always will affect. There is a trickle effect.”

Owens said while business owners might be hesitant to initially increase prices for a hotel stay or on the menu, even if their costs for goods has increased, they’ll wait as long as possible to not scare off customers. But Owens said eventually those costs get passed along to the customers, which is already starting to happen.

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