Arts & Entertainment, Economic Development, and Travel & Tourism

Kent County books record-setting pace for tourism

September 17, 2015
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Small tells county commissioners they're going to like the numbers
Experience Grand Rapids is Kent County's destination marketing organization that attracts visitors by “getting the word out about things to do in Grand Rapids.” Photo by Johnny Quirin

Grand Rapids and Kent County are on track to see a record-breaking year for tourism.

Experience Grand Rapids, or EXGR, Kent County's official destination marketing organization, said it is "confident that 2015 will be the sixth-consecutive year of tourism growth for Kent County.”

Record overnight numbers

In July, the Kent County hotel occupancy rate was 81.2 percent, according to Smith Travel Research, or STR, making it the highest occupancy rate in Kent County hotel industry history.

EXGR said it is awaiting the final August monthly report from STR. However, after reviewing the weekly STR reports, EXGR said it can confidently project that “year-to-date Kent County hotel revenue through August will be 12.7 percent ahead of 2014.”

August hotel occupancy is also projected to be at 80.5 to 81 percent.

Hotel occupancy, the percentage of hotel rooms being occupied, and hotel room revenue are key metrics in measuring tourism activity.

“We are excited to see this continued momentum in tourism growth,” said Doug Small, president and CEO, EXGR.

County-wide draws

He noted several indicators are pointing toward tourism growth in the area, such as increased passenger numbers at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, the record number of summer visitors to Meijer Gardens and the excitement surrounding the new Tanger Outlets shopping center in Byron Center.

He also acknowledged the efforts of the EXGR marketing and sales teams in promoting Grand Rapids as a “leading travel destination for leisure and convention travel.”

Small added that Grand Rapids visitors "still have a lot to look forward to in the coming months," highlighted by ArtPrize, a new Grand Rapids Public Museum exhibit, "American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition," the winter holiday season and "The Nutcracker" production by the Grand Rapids Ballet.

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