By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON — —
The number of room nights was up 5 percent between 2011 and 2012.
"Actual taxes were up more than that," said Tourism Director Bonnie Jerdon. "It's been a bit of a roller coaster this year with high highs and low lows. But, it has leveled out overall."
To illustrate her point, Jerdon said one month there was a 17 percent increase in the hotel/motel tax, while another month in the year had a 9 percent decrease from the previous year.
"The end result was a small increase," Jerdon said.
By the numbers, the tourism department received $501,765.61 from its 3 percent hotel/motel tax receipts; with the city general corporate fund receiving $311,646.75 of its 2 percent allotment. The city collected $460,921 int he $2 surcharge per bed in 2012.
In 2011, the Tourism Department collected $427,540.44 in the 3 percent hotel/motel tax; the city collected $285,026.96 as its 2 percent portion. The city collected $437,282.10 for the $2 surcharge.
Jerdon said hotel rooms occupied by those searching mineral rights did have an impact early last year.
"From the hotels we talk to, the people searching mineral rights have leveled off for us," Jerdon reported. "The first half of 2012, they had a significant impact. What we're seeing now is pretty typical travel numbers. Travel numbers are affected by gas prices. You can follow the trends — when gas prices are down, the room nights go up and when gas prices go up, room nights go down.
The total number of room nights reported by hotels in the city for 2012 came in at 230,470 compared to 218,625 in 2011. In 2010, there were 211,082 bed nights and in 2009, bed nights were at 209,144.50.
Jerdon reported there are 12 hotels in Mt. Vernon at this time, now that the Drury and Thrifty Inn are closed for re-building.
"We're looking forward to the Drury development, which will add another 180 beds," Jerdon said. "Once they are open, that will get us back up a little higher than we were before they closed with the number of rooms. ... We will see what impact closing the two hotels had when we receive the funds for January."