CAVE CITY — Statistics are showing hotel occupancy rates are declining in Barren County, according to a recently released report.
The subject came up during the Cave City Tourist and Convention Commission's meeting Monday.
Greg Davis, executive director of the tourist commission, referenced a weekly report from Smith Travel Research during the meeting. The report shows hotel occupancy rates in Barren County for the week of June 23 to June 29 decreasing by less than 15 percent.
“I'm not sure what's going on. … I'm not sure that anyone knows. They do not tell us what motels that they actually contact to get these stats from, but it's showing us as down somewhere in the teens percentage as far as overnight occupancy. That is not good,” Davis said.
He continued that he is unsure if the statistics are somewhat diluted due to additional properties that have opened.
“It is showing Warren County as being down in the 20 percent range,” Davis said. “Even though we're down, it could be worse.”
Tourist Commissioner Russ Yonker, who is general manager of the Comfort Inn and Suites and the Sleep Inn in Cave City, as well as the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Glasgow, said his franchise is predicting a 19 to 20 percent decline in occupancy.
“I know from the hotel industry you take a look at how it's always been and Cave City is the midpoint in Kentucky. In Elizabethtown, you've had this building boom and in Bowling Green you've had this building boom, so there is no more overflow from either side for us anymore,” he said.
Davis told tourist commissioners he wasn't sure if a lot of faith could be put in the weekly report.
“One thing that I don't like about this report that we get is that it has it for Barren County. We don't have it just for Cave City,” he said.
But Yonker said he felt that statistics from Smith Travel Research were pretty accurate.
After the tourist commission meeting, Davis said there is also a change in the tourist commission's transient room tax.
The tourist commission is funded by a 4 percent transient room tax and 3 percent restaurant tax as allowed by Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 91A.350-400.
“Our trends for room tax is down a little bit while the restaurant tax is up, but nothing to reflect those records,” Davis said.
The tourist commission's profit and loss statement for previous year comparison for June shows the commission to have received $19,429 in transient room tax revenue for June 2019 and $23,930.43 in transient room tax revenue for June 2018.
Yonker believes the decrease in hotel occupancy rates is due to there being too many hotel rooms in the market.
He again pointed out that there are between 100 to 200 new hotel rooms now available in Bowling Green and about the same that are also available in Elizabethtown.
“Here in Cave City, we are kind of sheltered from a lot of the economic decline to a certain extent, which would explain why Bowling Green/Warren County is down 24 percent and we're only hitting 19 to 20 percent,” he said.
When hotel occupancy rates start to decline, Yonker said the gut feeling of hoteliers tends to be to reduce hotel room rates.
“That's not helped,” he said.
Raj Vadhi, also a tourist commissioner and owner of the Econo Lodge hotel in Cave City, and Nick Patel, chairman of the tourist commission and owner of Super 8 and Days Inn hotels in Cave City, said they have also noticed a decline in hotel room occupancy and attribute it to a decline in the economy.
“People aren't comfortable to spend money at this time,” Vadhi said, and Patel agreed.
One thing that might help the problem is the location of more attractions in Cave City that would bring more people to town for overnight stays, Davis said.
“The thing the state is promoting this year is bourbon. It would be great if we had a distillery,” he said. “Distilleries are big attractions right now and that's all the state of Kentucky just about is wanting to promote right now is the Bourbon Trail and those kinds of things, so we have that and shopping. If we could get some additional shopping, something else to keep people here.”
Cave City Mayor Dwayne Hatcher, who is not a member of the tourist commission but sits in on the meetings, said during his report investors for a vendors' mall are looking at construction specs and have looked at a couple of different locations.
“Hopefully, that will come through,” he said.