The town and other jurisdictions split a 6% hotel tax with the Visitors Bureau, and over the past five years, the town has raised nearly $5.2 million to help pay for services to residents and businesses. During the pandemic shutdown when travel was severely curtailed, it slashed revenue, and annual collections fell from about $1.2 million to $627,867 last year, but are back again this year so far to $859,848.
BCVB relies on Hotel Tax to do its work to help bring tourism events and opportunities to the county. Over the past five years, they’ve racked up $6.36 million in housing tax revenue. It had a five-year high in 2019 of $1.736 million but fell to $802,304 last year. In the first half of this year, they collected $561,557
“What happened with COVID as we all know, travel has faded and is not even close to pre-pandemic levels, so our hotel communities, especially in West Chester, are really struggling on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,” Heckett said.
“On the positive side, with the reopening of the borders, in November we saw a slight increase in business but now we have some new variants so some skates will be difficult.”
Countywide, even as the pandemic hits hotels, seven new housing options – one a reused hotel – have opened or will open soon, five of which are in West Chester. These institutions are not only realized overnight, Heckett said, but were planned years before anyone could foresee global catastrophe.
West Chester Community Development Director Aaron Wigan said the Spooky Nook will certainly have a positive impact.
“We see Spooky Nook having a positive impact across Butler County and certainly in West Chester,” Wigan said. “We hear that some of our new hotel developers have mentioned that Spooky Nook is coming online.”
Wiegand told Journal News that the new hotel is moving into an area already designated for hotels, so details about the project are few. The Journal-News contacted the owners for details but they did not respond.
Having a huge stable of hotels has its perks, but Wigan said they also hear comments that there are already too many hotels in town. He said they couldn’t “close the door” if someone wanted to build one within an area already designated for that use.
“The general consensus is that there are a lot of them…” said Wiegand. “Honestly, they see locals don’t generally use hotels like a new restaurant, a new shopping mall or a new retail place, they are excited about these things. Hotels are mainly for use outside the towers. I’m not sure they don’t like hotels, they like restaurants and shops The retail stores they use daily.”