Yesterday marked the day when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 an international pandemic and changed our lives forever. March 12, 2020 was just the beginning, and we didn't know what we didn't know. So, looking back what changed?
Across NWA, both tourism and business-travel nearly halted. At one point, Visit Bentonville
saw a 30% decline in receipts for lodging and restaurants. Omitting the 2009 recession numbers the City of Bentonville has seen a "year-over-year growth for 15 years" said
, Kalene Griffith, President and CEO of Visit Bentonville.
Prior to the pandemic, weekday hotel occupancy rates
in the area were hitting 80-100% Monday-Wednesdays, with the cease in travel, those occupancy rates quickly dropped to around 15-20% per night. Additionally, Northwest Arkansas National Airport passenger numbers
were down in the 80-90% ranges.
However, activity seems to be picking back up and hotel owners are hopeful for the future. The main driver? Sports. With Fayetteville hosting the NCAA Men's and Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships, local hotels, which were nearly empty a year ago, are now seeing a total swing with occupancy rates increasing - Talk Business & Politics