Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a 15-part series (appearing on LodgingMagazine.com each Monday) examining the performance of various markets in the United States. The following is courtesy of Deloitte’s “Hospitality Vision US Performance Review.”
According to Smith Travel Research (STR), tourism is up slightly (but still virtually flat) in Atlanta.
For the first 11 months of 2011, revPAR increased slightly (3.0 percent) and occupancy expanded by 3.3 percent. With average rates at $83.13, along with a 60.3 percent fill rate, the hotel business in the region realized a small improvement. In fact, as noted by the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, for the fourth consecutive year, hoteliers have seen a drop in room rates.
Over the past few years, Atlanta's hotels have suffered more than those in many other cities for two reasons: a decline in tourism because of the recession and an unfortunately timed hotel building boom. But as the number of visitors grew (even only a small amount), the city’s hotel business may have reason for optimism.
In a sign of the revitalized times, the Atlanta Development Authority is providing up to $44 million in lease-purchase bonds for the proposed Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites, being developed by North Point Hospitality Group Inc. The 12-story, 240,000-square-foot hotel will have 134 rooms branded Hilton Garden Inn and 92 rooms branded Homewood Suites. As reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, construction that began in the summer 2011 should be complete by first quarter of 2013. In particularly heartening news, the project is creating more than 200 construction jobs, and the finished hotel will employ about 100.
According to Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city’s versatile meeting spaces make the city a perfect venue for conventions, large and small. A case in point: T.D. Jakes Ministries will hold its conference, “Woman, Thou Art Loosed,” in Philips Arena in 2012, for the first time since 2006. The event is expected to draw nearly 20,000 women from all backgrounds and cultures (pitchengine.com).
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International remains one of the world's busiest airports. According to Airports Council International, the airport is busy (despite the economic recession) because it hosts both a strong global carrier and a strong low-fare airline. In December, airport officials announced the beginning of regular, chartered flights to Cuba; Atlanta is one of only eight U.S. cities that have gained federal approval for "purposeful" travel to the communist island nation.