New Hotels in Billings Show Growth - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

New Hotels in Billings Show Growth

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BILLINGS -

Billings already has thousands of hotel rooms and guess what? More are on their way.

The Tourism Business Improvement District, or TBID, with Visit Billings, gets two dollars from every hotel room per night, and uses it to market and promote the Magic City.

"When you look at tourism or travel in tourism, number one expenditure for guests is actually oil and gas,” says Steve Wahrlich, TBID president and owner of the Best Western Plus Clocktower Inn. “Number two is retail. Number three is food and beverage and fourth is hotel. So when you start looking at the dollars that are being spent in this community and the number of jobs it impacts, it's extremely significant."

The group brings in high school sports tournaments and major events like the BMW Motorcycles of America international rally next July. That's not the only reason new hotels in town are staying full. The new Ledgestone Hotel saw a busy summer with tourists and now, contractors are staying there to fix hail-damaged homes.

"It's needed,” says Jennifer Benson, the hotel's general manager, about more hotels. “With the yellowstone traffic, sturgis, just you have so much that comes through billings, that people think of. i never thought how busy billings was until i started at this hotel"

So far this year, the Ledgestone Hotel, My Place Hotel, and La Quinta have opened. But, hotel experts say it will take a while for Billings to absorb the new units, and Visit Billings to bring in more people.

"For the hotels in the coming year, the next year to two years, I think will be a little slow,” Wahrlich says. “We'll have probably more people, but our occupancy rates will be down a little as well as rates will remain flat. Outside of that, I think we have a great opportunity."

Wahrlich says it's good news for the traveler though as room rates likely will not go up while there are more hotels.

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