Report: Occupancy at 86%, outperforming competing destinations
Hotel occupancy reached 86% over Labor Day Weekend according to a report delivered to Visit Santa Barbara this week, indicating that interest in the region remains high among visitors and vacationers as the tourism industry begins its road to recovery.
Santa Barbara was bustling over Labor Day Weekend, with tourists and locals alike populating the city’s various attractions, retail stores and restaurants to soak up the last of summer. With many visitors using the weekend to take one last summer trip, Labor Day Weekend brought benefits for hoteliers who are still in the process of recovering revenue after a tough pandemic year.
On Thursday, Visit Santa Barbara received a report conducted by STR, an independent hotel reporting firm, that showcased performance data from Labor Day Weekend. According to Visit Santa Barbara, hotels in Goleta, Santa Barbara and Montecito continue to outcompete competing leisure destinations, and this weekend’s performance met the organization’s expectations.
The results of the report, which were summarized in an email from Visit Santa Barbara, found that hotel stays were down 8% last week compared to 2019, while hotel rates were 31% higher than 2019. The report discovered that the average daily rate for a hotel stay was $412 over the holiday weekend.
In addition, the report discovered that the region continues to attract people visiting for a vacation or to attend weddings, while business travel and meeting travel are on a slower track to recovery.
During the pandemic, the majority of visitors to Santa Barbara came from within California, with half coming from Southern California, Visit Santa Barbara President/CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes told the News-Press in an email. When flights began to rebound in the spring and Southwest Airlines began service to Santa Barbara Airport, Ms. Janega-Dykes said the region started to see an uptick in the number of out-of-state visitors, though in-state visitors are still Santa Barbara’s primary market.
While Thursday’s report indicated that the region’s hotel industry is still climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, Ms. Janega-Dykes said she is “grateful that our recovery continues to outpace our competitors.”
“Investments in destination marketing, air service development at Santa Barbara Airport and improvements to the State Street experience have given our community a much-needed advantage,” Ms. Janega-Dykes added. “While visitors have not yet returned to the levels seen before the pandemic, the local hospitality industry has learned to adapt and thrive throughout the most challenging and unpredictable of circumstances.”
Heading into the latter half of the year, Visit Santa Barbara officials say they expect to see a decline in tourism in the fall and winter months, which is a typical seasonal pattern the industry sees every year in the U.S. Ms. Janega-Dykes said questions remain regarding whether leisure travel will remain strong and when the region will see a comeback in business and meetings travel — all of which is uncertain at this point.
But despite this uncertainty, Ms. Janega-Dykes said she remains hopeful that things will continue to improve in the region. She added that in addition to vacation travel, the region has seen a boost thanks to wedding celebrations that have returned “with a vengeance,” as brides and grooms no longer want to delay their major life events.
“In general, August performed better than we thought it would, and last fall came together nicely, so let’s just say I am cautiously optimistic today,” Ms. Janega-Dykes said. “In the meantime, Visit Santa Barbara is doing everything we can to make this fall successful—from aggressively pursuing meetings bookings to strategically targeting our advertising to reach would-be travelers.”