(Update: Adding video)
Visit Bend says hotel occupancy rates are down 10%
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) - You may not notice it, as many favorite spots are still crowded, but Visit Bend says fewer people are visiting this summer than in prior years.
"We track the number of hotel rooms occupied each week. This summer, we're averaging 18,000, compared to last summer, when it was closer to 20,000," Visit Bend CEO Kevney Dugan explained Thursday.
Dugan cites higher gas prices and international travel as likely reasons for the reduction in tourists.
While the number of rooms booked has dropped about 10%, Dugan says revenue is still strong, as many hotels have raised rates with inflation and labor costs.
"Some are charging $400 or $500 a night, with the average price of a room at $200, and that's up from previous years," he said. "The big picture shows the taxes collected for the city's General Fund shouldn't be impacted."
Visit Bend also keeps track of where visitors come from, and this summer shows no change.
"Seventy-five to 80 per cent of the visitors come from Portland, Seattle and San Francisco," Dugan said, "places which are drivable."
Others travel farther, often to visit family and friends, like the Driscoll family from Minnesota.
"This is the first time my daughters have seen mountains, so it's amazing and gorgeous here," said mom Leah Driscoll. "We give it 5 stars, and we haven't even been here long."
Visit Bend tracks the tourists' experience with an ongoing online survey.
Their marketing targets the winter months, when hotel occupancy drops to about 50%.
"We haven't had to sell people on visiting in the summer. They come for the all there is to do outdoors and for places like the High Desert Museum," Dugan added.