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Summer hotel room occupancy up in Charlotte

Local hotels have seen more travelers so far this summer, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said, fueled by conventions and sporting events.

The group this week provided preliminary figures for July and the first weekend in August. Room occupancy in Mecklenburg County averaged 70 percent in July. That’s higher than typical July occupancy rates in Mecklenburg, which average 64 percent, the CRVA said.

“It’s encouraging to see our hotel community experience record growth,” CRVA CEO Tom Murray said in a statement. Murray said the numbers were boosted by big one-time events, especially the Alpha Kappa Alpha convention in July and an international soccer match the first weekend in August.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha convention in mid-July fueled strong hotel room demand, with more than 11,000 attendees, the CRVA said. Hotels averaged 84 percent full during that week. The CRVA said hotel room rates were also up a third from the prior year, averaging just over $90 a night.

The Guinness International Champion’s Cup soccer exhibition match that pitted Liverpool against Manchester in Bank of America Stadium uptown two weeks ago also contributed to hotel demand. Hotels in Mecklenburg averaged 83 percent full. And hotels uptown saw an even bigger boost: 89 percent of rooms were occupied that weekend, compared to 57 percent the prior year. On the Saturday of the game, uptown hotels were 96 percent full.

The CRVA is funded in part with revenues from its events, such as ticket sales, and with city tax money generated through taxes on prepared food and hotel rooms. The group manages city-owned buildings such as Bojangles’ Coliseum, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Charlotte Convention Center.

On Tuesday, city officials and boosters rolled out a plan to bid for the NBA All-Star Game, which will be largely contingent on Charlotte funding millions of dollars in renovations at Time Warner Cable Arena, where the Hornets play. The CRVA manages parts of the arena, and has requested almost $8 million worth of improvements over the next five years. The Hornets have requested an additional $34 million and expect to hammer out a deal with the city soon.

Assistant City Manager Ron Kimble said Tuesday the upgrades would not be paid for from a property tax increase but with revenues from rental car taxes and hotel/motel taxes.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo
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