Some thoughts on 2009 lodging in Marion
Despite the bad economy last year, tourism grew in Marion and Williamson County at least in terms of hotel taxable receipts.
Bed tax collections for the 25 active lodging establishments in the county grew by 15.5 percent last year over 2008 to $791,741.06. That was the best since 11.3 percent growth in 2005.
The bed tax receipts show tourists and travelers spent more than $15.8 million directly on lodging last year in the county with all but about 15 percent of that spent directly with establishments inside the Marion city limits.
In both 2005 and 2009, much of the growth could be attributed to a major new hotel being added to the mix. Country Inn & Suites opened in December 2008. Previously, Fairfield Inn had been the last player added.
With Country Inn, the Big 6 hotels in Marion became the Big 7 and collectively increased their market share from 78.2 percent to 79.1 percent, but the new hotel didn't cannibalize its competitors as some had feared. The other six major hotels collectively saw their taxable receipts grow by 6.6 percent in 2009 versus just a 1 percent jump in 2008.
All sectors but the oldest motels in the county saw growth last year.
Overall the Big 7 were up 16.8 percent, the mid-level motels (both the small chains and independents) were up 19.1 percent, and the specialty lodging category of bed and breakfast inns, cabins and vacation rentals grew by 41 percent thanks to new units being added.
The lodging operators inside the Marion city limits attributed for 84.8 percent of the market share.
All lodging operators in the county from the smallest vacation house rental up to the largest hotels pay a bed tax equal to 5 percent of their receipts to the county which is split 40/60 between the Williamson County Tourism Bureau and the Williamson County Events Commission (the funds to the latter group goes to pay the financing costs for the Williamson County Pavilion). The actual receipts taken in by the hotels are actually greater than the taxable receipts as rentals for more than 30 days are not covered by the bed tax.