Report: Occupancy at 86%, outperforming competing destinations

Hotel occupancy hit 86% on Labor Day Weekend, suggesting that interest in the area remains high among visitors and vacationers as the tourism industry begins its recovery journey, according to a report submitted to Visit Santa Barbara this week.

Santa Barbara was busy over Labor Day Weekend, with tourists and locals populating the city’s various attractions, retail stores, and restaurants to enjoy last summer. With many visitors using the weekend for one final summer trip, Labor Day Weekend brought benefits to hoteliers who are still recovering their earnings after a tough year of pandemic.

On Thursday, Visit Santa Barbara received a report prepared by STR, an independent hotel reporting firm, that presented performance data from Labor Day Weekend. Hotels in Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Montecito continue to beat competing vacation destinations, and this weekend’s performance met the organization’s expectations, according to Visit Santa Barbara.

The results of the report, summarized in an email from Visit Santa Barbara, found that hotel stays last week were down 8% compared to 2019, while hotel prices were 31% higher than 2019. The report found, that the average daily rate for a hotel stay was $ 412 over the holiday weekend.

Additionally, the report found that the region continues to attract vacationers or wedding guests, while business travel and meeting travel are slower to recover.

During the pandemic, the majority of visitors to Santa Barbara were from California, half from Southern California, Kathy Janega-Dykes, President / CEO of Visit Santa Barbara, told News-Press in an email. When flights resumed in the spring and Southwest Airlines started at Santa Barbara Airport, Ms. Janega-Dykes said the area saw an increase in overseas visitors, although the state visitors are still Santa Barbara’s main market.

While Thursday’s report indicated that the region’s hotel industry is still returning to pre-pandemic levels, Janega-Dykes said she was “grateful that our recovery continues to outperform our competitors.”

“Investing in destination marketing, flight service development at Santa Barbara Airport, and improvements to the State Street experience have given our community a much-needed advantage,” added Ms. Janega-Dykes. “While visitors have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, the local hospitality industry has learned to adapt and thrive in the most difficult and unpredictable circumstances.”

In the second half of the year, Visit Santa Barbara officials expect tourism to decline in the fall and winter months, which is a typical seasonal pattern the US industry sees every year, whether vacation travel will remain strong and when the region will remain will experience a comeback in business and conference traffic – which is still uncertain at this point in time.

Despite this uncertainty, Ms. Janega-Dykes remains confident that things will continue to improve in the region. She added that on top of vacation travel, the region has seen a boom thanks to the wedding parties that have returned “with a vengeance” as brides and grooms no longer want to postpone important life events.

“In general, August did better than we thought and last fall was a good match, so let’s just say I’m cautiously optimistic today,” said Ms. Janega-Dykes. “In the meantime, Visit Santa Barbara is doing everything it can to make this fall a success – from aggressively tracking meeting bookings to strategically targeting our advertising to reach potential travelers.”