The redevelopment momentum for our destination continues. Sonesta International has announced that the Island’s Crowne Plaza Resort will now become a Sonesta property-the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island. It’s additional private investment in our destination that will pay dividends for both Sonesta as well as our Hilton Head Island brand.
Do you think some airfares are a little high these days? We do, which is why we’ve taken action on this issue. In cooperation with the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and the Savannah Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau, we’ve contacted Delta executives to relay our concerns with the growing disparity between Delta fares and rates for neighboring airports. We’ve been successful in the past with this approach and prompted Delta to adjust fares in and out of Savannah in 2008 and we’re hoping to do so again. Meetings are taking place with Delta officials at the end of this month and we will keep you posted on the outcome.
We’re all beginning to see the out-of-state plates along our roadways that mean our visitor season has begun, and it’s starting off with a bang. I’m pleased to report that according to Smith Travel Research, Hilton Head Island’s year-to-date hotel occupancy increase is outpacing our competitors such as Kiawah Island, Napa, Orlando, Myrtle Beach and 14 other destinations. We’re hoping it’s a trend that continues. Another trend we’re seeing that bodes well for our visitor season is reservations “on the books” for our home and villa properties are up a healthy 58% over last year according to VTRIP research. Both research firms help us get the big picture view of what’s happening in the tourism industry.
I will continue to push forward the mantra that we’re all in the tourism business in the Lowcountry. There’s not a single business that isn’t impacted by our number one industry. That’s why information like the trends I’ve talked about above are important barometers of our business community.
Enjoy the Spring weather and the week ahead!