Napa County supervisors appreciate the ever-growing number of tourists staying at the ever-growing number of local hotels, but also see such challenges as giving hotel workers local housing options.
Visit Napa Valley made its annual report to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. It spends about $7 million annually promoting the Napa Valley to potential visitors who stay overnight in hotels.
Lodging revenue for the 12 months ending last June topped $373 million, said Cassandra Walker on behalf of Visit Napa Valley. That marked the seventh consecutive year of growth. By comparison, revenue in 2009 was less than $200 million.
Napa County and its cities share in the wealth through a transient occupancy tax on hotel stays. In 2015-16, the tax brought in $12.6 million for county government coffers, or 6 percent of the general fund budget.
In that sense, the growth in hotel stays is good news for county government and the services its provides.
“What that means to me as a county, it means more money,” Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza said.
But more hotels are being built, such as the six-story Archer Hotel in downtown Napa. Pedroza said that means more workers will be needed in a county that already has a housing shortage.
Pedroza said he’s looking for more data to have a discussion about hotel growth sustainability at some point in the future.
“I think the fact and reality is your success has created pressure on housing and transportation,” Pedroza told the Visit Napa Valley representatives. “If we don’t address that, there will be more concerns.”
Walker said Napa County added 190 hotel rooms from 2012 and 2016, bringing the total to 5,000. The county will add another 525 rooms by the end of 2018.
Visit Napa Valley will increase its sales and marketing efforts to ensure a smooth absorption of these new rooms, she said. The 73 percent occupancy rate in 2015-16 indicates there’s a market to be tapped.
“Five thousand sounds like we’re a legitimate destination in the world,” Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht told the Visit Napa Valley contingent. “We have enough for the world to come and visit … I’m sure you will market whatever there is and make whatever there is a screaming success.”
Wagenknecht too expressed concerns about housing the needed workforce as hotel growth continues. He doesn’t want to see that expected, two-year growth rate of 525 rooms continue indefinitely.
“To editorialize, I don’t think it is sustainable for a long period of time,” Wagenknecht said. “Five thousand is a good number.”
Supervisor Diane Dillon represents the county on the Napa Valley Tourism Corporation Board. She said the hotel representatives on the board talk about sustainability issues and are concerned.
“They’re not oblivious to that,” she said.
Among other things, Visit Napa Valley runs the Napa Valley Welcome Center in downtown Napa. In 2015-16, the center served 139,367 guests, collected consumer data from 15,067 visitors and booked 1,086 room nights at its lodging desk.
Visit Napa Valley hired a new advertising agency, MeringCarson of Sacramento, in 2016 and worked on its “Legend Has It” advertising campaign to tell the Napa Valley story. It redesigned its website as well.
Also, Visit Napa Valley is having Destination Analysts do a 2016 visitor profile survey and a tourism economic impact report.