Hotel and motel tax collections were up almost $293,000 in 2011 over the previous year, an indicator of tourism growth in the area.
Augusta-Richmond County brought in $4.2 million from the hotel and motel tax. The revenue was $3.9 million in 2010 and $3.8 million in 2009.
Consistent increases in hotel and motel taxes over the past few years resulted from steady business and leisure travel rather than one single tourism event, said Peggy Seigler, the vice president of sales and marketing for the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We only hope that continues,” she said. “We have a strong local economy, and there are reasons to be in Augusta.”
Columbia County’s year-end totals won’t be available until early February. Numbers through November, however, already surpassed the 2010 mark.
“It’s definitely a sign that people are traveling more and things are changing,” said Shelly Clark, the interim director of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Through November, the county collected more than $613,000 – about $11,000 more than 2010.
The hotel and motel occupancy rate was 61.7 percent through November, representing a 1.6 percent increase.
Clark predicts collections will continue to rise this year, especially as the county experiences an influx of visitors to the new Evans Towne Center Park.