by Margo Christensen, Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations, Ponderosa Hotel Management Services
I wonder if what I’m writing will be relevant six weeks from now. Will we be on another lockdown? Will there be additional travel restrictions in place, or fewer? Will another wave of the virus be surfacing causing businesses to close? And most importantly, will schools and universities be opened to in-person learning?
For the businesses we own, we were pretty lucky because hotels are considered essential.
As board chairperson of the City of Prescott Tourism Advisory Committee, I am in close touch with our City’s tourism office and keep track of local and state data related to travel patterns and visitor spending. While March through May was decimating to our local hotels and travel-related industries and jobs, there is no question travel to Prescott is on the rebound.
We are fortunate Prescott is a smaller metro area and desirable destination with an abundance of outdoor activities. The trend now is in-state travel, short driving trips and exploring the outdoors.
I realize some don’t want people to travel to Prescott for fear the virus will be brought in from another city or state. But the economic reality is that approximately 60% of our sales-tax revenue is generated from out-of-town visitors.
I hope people are thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas travel plans; I can only hope most of our iconic holiday events will continue. We will miss the American Lutheran Hand Bell Choir this year in our lobby of SpringHill Suites for Acker night (already canceled), and we are unsure yet if Santa Claus will be able to join us on December weekends.
On a different subject, and one close to me, the Prescott Chamber of Commerce launched the Save the Bars Campaign in August. We are proud SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn by Marriott contributed $2,500 to the campaign, which directs grants toward the bars forced to be closed for so long. More money is needed to help them get back on their feet again.