SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

August 1, 2012

Filling up fast

Salem hotels are bustling, and it's not even October

(Continued)

Fox’s Destination Salem is a nonprofit public-private partnership funded by the city and its businesses. The city’s contribution comes from a portion of the city’s hotel tax, and Salem’s contribution to the organization was $187,500 this year, Fox said.

The city took in nearly $393,000 in hotel taxes in fiscal 2012.

The money, which represents an increase, has allowed Destination Salem to boost its marketing and advertising in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and elsewhere in an attempt to get the word out about Salem.

“Both hotels have done a really good job of maximizing their niche market,” Fox said of the Hawthorne and Salem Waterfront hotels.

Hotel tax revenue is another indicator that the hotels, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts are busier this year than last. For this past March, April and May, a time of year that is typically slower than the fall, Salem saw a 6.7 percent increase in hotel taxes, according to information provided by Richard Viscay Jr., Salem’s director of finance. The city received $55,788 in hotel taxes in these three months, compared with $52,274 for March, April and May 2011. It’s the latest quarter for which the city has figures available.

Not every room is occupied in the city. Some of the bed-and-breakfasts in town are not full, while others are having strong seasons, Fox said.

“Feedback from retail is mixed, as well; some are doing great, and some are off a bit. Restaurants seem to be booming,” Fox said.

July and August are the city’s busiest tourist months, next to October, Fox said. However, rooms were also filling up in the winter.

The Hawthorne Hotel’s burst pipe happened during what is normally a slow season, but amid a mild winter, the number of people who passed through the National Park Service’s Salem Regional Visitor Center on New Liberty Street doubled from 3,759 in February 2011 to 7,614 in February 2012. It was at a time when the hotel did not have many rooms to spare.

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