Genesee County seeing major growth in hotel industry

The hotel industry is in the midst of a major expansion in Genesee County following years of increased demand.

In 2017, nearly a half-million hotel rooms were booked in Genesee County, which raked in more than $34 million, according to the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. Because of a countywide 5 percent hotel tax, it also brought in more than $1.1 million in tax revenue — a 29 percent increase since 2011.

And, it’s sure to grow even more over the next year. The area has seen three major hotel projects take root recently:
  • The $37.9-million Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Flint will feature 101 guest rooms as well as meeting rooms and a large green space next door where two dilapidated buildings already have been knocked down. It is part of $200 million in construction happening in Flint and already has won funding support from the Michigan Strategic Fund.
  • The new $16-million Hyatt Place hotel is taking shape along Hill Road near US-23. Lodgco Hospitality broke ground on the facility with 106 guest rooms in May.
  • Plus there is the recent addition of the 97-guest room Fairfield Inn and Suite on Holly Road coming in at more than 15,000 square feet.
Those three projects alone represent about 15 percent growth in the number of rooms available in Genesee County.

Both tourism and the growing economy have helped fuel the hotel industry expansion in Genesee County, said Alaina Wiens, director of the Convention & Visitors Bureau at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.
  
"The economy is good, so travelers have more disposable income. We’re also seeing an increase in corporate travel, which fills hotel rooms on weekdays. Local construction has also had a positive impact on area properties, with many construction workers and road crews staying overnight in local hotels,” Wiens said. “It’s been a busy year for those in hospitality.” 

The county collects an accommodation tax of 5 percent on hotel rooms to promote tourism, which funds the Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Genesee County is home to 2,300 hotel rooms, Wiens said. Occupancy rates also have edged up since 2015 as has overall revenue. And, the industry also is seeing significant investment in already existing hotels, too.

"There will be considerable growth in terms of reinvestment,” Wiens said. “For example, The Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn and Holiday Inn – all located along or near Hill Road by US 23 – are slated to be under renovation (this) year.”

Wiens also notes that growth of the hotel industry also helps business growth overall in the community. 

"For every person that stays in a hotel, those dollars can roll over six times in our community. That’s because they also support local businesses as they eat and shop here,” she said. “That has a trickle-down effect that results in job growth in all sorts of industries."

Read more articles by Alexandria Brown.

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