Hotel stats show St. Johns County remains popular July 4 destination

CHRISTINA.KELSO@STAUGUSTINE.COM County hoteliers saw occupancy rates up 7.7 percent from last year for Fourth of July. For the week of July 2-8, hotel occupancy rates in the county were flat compared to the same week last year.

St. Augustine has apparently retained its status as a top draw on Independence Day, according to statistics released by the St. Johns County visitors and convention bureau (VCB).


The VCB reported county hotels had occupancy rates that were flat compared to last year for the week of July 2-8. But they enjoyed a 3.2 percent rise in average daily rate to $147.62 and sold more rooms as the market has increased the overall number of rooms available.

VCB president and CEO Richard Goldman said the increase in supply countered the slight decrease in occupancy rate (less than one percent). But his main take from the information is that visitors still enjoy coming to the county during a peak travel time.

“So far, we’re finding places to put them and they seem to be happy,” Goldman said. “I think the visitors are still feeling good about it.”

Goldman said his agency, which is charged with promoting the county to tourists, had “slightly higher” levels of advertising in May and June for the summer season.

For July 4 itself, county hoteliers saw occupancy rates up 7.7 percent from last year and the average daily rate increased 35.6 percent to $161.17.

The data provided to the VCB does not include vacation rentals or bed and breakfasts, which are both a big part of the county lodging market.

But some of the owners of St. Augustine bed and breakfasts reported full occupancies around the holiday.

Cyndi Humphrey, owner of the Cedar House Inn on Cedar Street, and Irving Kass, owner of the St. George Inn, both said they were full over the holiday weekend.

“I was happy to say we were sold out on both weekends and the Fourth, so for that I’m very grateful,” Humphrey said. “I did notice that the city seemed a little quieter than it would have been traditionally. Traffic wasn’t as bad.

“But from my perspective, couldn’t have been happier.”

Humphrey said the summer so far has been good for her and that the July 4 holiday is the last really busy time until the fall for her business.

“Anything in the summertime is just gravy,” she said. “The real economics happen in peak season (starting in October) and the city supports all of those months with a plethora of different options.

“I’m just thrilled to say we have a tremendous amount of repeat business.”

Kass said activity as his establishment was similar to what Humphrey described.

“We were full the whole five-day period (around July 4),” he said. “We ended up having a very good week. We were happy with Fourth of July.”

Like Humphrey, Kass said July is not his busy season, but the July 4 holiday is always a big one. He said many of his guests book for the following year before they check out.

He knows the holiday is important for the county tourism market in general and Kass said he’s seen nothing to indicate that interest is waning in the destination.

“Everyone seems to be doing fine,” Kass said. “I think it may be getting a little flat now because there are more hotels in town than there were a year ago. If you added up all the people in town, there’s probably more, but we have to share the people with more places.”

Goldman said as long as the destination remains favorable in the eyes of visitors, the new rooms available in town will only enhance the local tourism industry.

“Right now, it still looks like we’re growing the younger (demographic),” he said. “We continue to head in the right direction. The future is bright for the right kind of visitors.”