Convention and Visitors Bureau officials in both Parkersburg and Marietta are reporting an increase in hotel stays and resulting revenue.
Mark Lewis with the Greater Parkersburg CVB reported there were 17,174 room nights reported for May compared to 16,289 for May 2011. Year to date, room nights through the end of May were 71,122 compared to 64,944 last year, a 9.51 percent increase.
"I think there is a lot of pent-up demand that we were seeing now. The economy had been down for several years, now people are deciding to travel, at least that's the sense that I'm getting. Across the country, there is an increase in travel," Lewis said. "Our area has a lot of fairs, festivals, attractions, sports marketing going on, there were a number of sports tournaments in May and that would account for some of the increased activity for that month."
Lewis said walk-in traffic at the bureau's Seventh Street office in downtown has picked up as well.
The convention and visitors bureaus on both sides of the Ohio River receive a portion of hotel/motel room occupancy taxes for their operations.
Local tourism officials said they work closely with their cohorts across the river, noting the river poses no boundary for them.
"Just last month we co-hosted with the Marietta-Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau a hospitality training here in Parkersburg for any of our partners who were interested in attending," Lewis said. "I am really committed to working with the Marietta CVB. Guests don't look at the river as a boundary, neither should we. One of my goals is to strengthen our ongoing partnership with the Marietta officials."
The Marietta-Washington CVB showed hotel room night revenues at $29,778.74, an increase of 26.8 percent from the same time period in 2011.
According to Casey Knowlton, group tour coordinator for the Marietta-Washington County CVB, overnight visitors spend on average $285 as compared to single-day visitors who spend only $100 per trip. Research suggests that for every $100 spent locally, 70 percent stays in the community, Knowlton said.
According to Jeri Knowlton, executive director of the Marietta-Washington County CVB, the bureau's research shows many travelers come back to Washington County up to four or more times and are beginning to plan their trips for the upcoming year.
"The bureau is very focused on continuing this positive upward trend the remainder of 2012 and into 2013," Jeri Knowlton said.
With summer festivals and events around the corner, tourism is expected to peak in the coming months.
"Events like Brick Street BBQ and Riverfront Roar bring a variety of people to Marietta with special interests and hobbies," Jeri Knowlton said. "With Marietta hosting the first stop of Ohio Chautauqua we are expecting an outstanding turnout and an exciting summer."
According to U.S. Travel Association officials, the travel industry added 7,000 new jobs in April.
David Huether, senior vice president of economics and research at the U.S. Travel Association said travel-generated employment has risen by 48,700 in the first four months of 2012, contributing 6.1 percent of all non-farm jobs added during the same period.