Revenue generated by Eureka Springs’ hotels hit an all-time high in 2006.
Last year, the City Advertising and Promotion Commission recorded revenue of about $20.7 million, which eclipsed the previous record year of 2003.
The CAPC estimates there are about 2,200 hotel rooms in town, but Joe McClung, a Realtor and owner of Flat Iron Flats and Swiss Holiday Resort, said there are about 2,650 by his count.
However, about 95 of those are in a hotel that’s now closed.
The city’s collections in 2004 were the lowest recorded in the last decade, and the 2006 numbers reflect a 33.6 percent increase from that year and a 7 percent increase from 2005.
Sheila Hulsey, accounting coordinator for the CAPC, said that as of July, hotel revenue for the city is down about 10 percent from 2006.
Revenue figures include only lodging and not revenue generated by banquets, food sales, gift shops or spas.
Bill Ott, director of marketing and communications for the 120-year-old 1886 Crescent Hotel, said the property had “done better” each year since 1997, the year Marty and Elise Roenigk bought it.
The Crescent has 72 rooms and the Roenigk’s other hotel, Basin Park, has 61 rooms.
There is a push for more wedding business in the city by a group called the Eureka Springs Co-Op, a group of several business owners who pool advertising dollars to target specific business opportunities.
“Weddings have allowed us to be profitable year-round,” said Ott. “A high tide will raise all boats.”
McClung said business had been hurt by unseasonable rain in June and July, but things were looking up as of July 24.
His rooms were booked full of Hell’s Angels who were to be in town the final weekend of July.
Best Western Eureka Inn owner Jed Bullock said the rain has been a wash. Traffic from river and lake tourists that usually fades by June was up and offset traffic turned off by the clouds.
Bullock, who is a Eureka Springs Co-Op member, said he’s seen trends in shorter booking patterns, which makes it hard for him to forecast, and longer stays.
People aren’t citing fuel prices as a factor in their travel decisions, he said.
Bullock’s property has 85 rooms and he declined to share his average occupancy rates.
“I think it’s more important to focus on if you’re having a good year or not,” he said.