ST. LOUIS – Spring break season is starting and St. Louis is beginning to welcome more visitors than it’s seen in months. The pandemic immediately impacted the hospitality and tourism industry when the pandemic hit the region more than a year ago.
“We are certainly not out of the woods, but we are seeing some green shoots, we’re seeing some steady progress,” Brian Hall, Explore St. Louis chief marketing officer said.
Hall said spring break and opening day of baseball typically signify the start of tourism in St. Louis.
FOX 2 reported in June 2020 the metro area hotel occupancy rate hit a low of 18.4% in early April.
According to Brian Hall, chief marketing officer with Explore St. Louis, the occupancy rate in mid-March rebounded to 46 percent, the most since October.
The latest data is giving hope to hotel owners like Amrit Gill. He is the CEO of Innkeeper Hospitality Services, which owns Hotel Saint Louis in downtown.
“At this time last year is when we had no reservations and nobody was coming into the hotel at all,” he said. “We’re still dramatically down, but we’re starting to see a lot of green shoots, a lot of increased reservations starting to come in.”
Hall said area attractions such as Union Station, St. Louis Zoo, and The Gateway Arch are all seeing an increase in visitors. Meanwhile. St. Louis Lambert International Airport is also experiencing an increase in passenger levels as high as the holiday season.
“It’s exciting once again to see that both St. Louisans are getting on planes and taking trips, and people are coming into St. Louis,” Hall said.
He said leisure travel is increasing, but sports competitions and group travel are also making a return.
“We had volleyball two consecutive weekends, we had a gymnastics trial, we just finished up D2 wrestling, now this week D1 wrestling.”
As vaccinations increase and COVID-19 cases decrease, Hall expects there will be a complete return of the hospitality industry in St. Louis in the next 12-24 months. However, he expects corporate or business travel to be the last to return.
“We’re hoping this is the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” Hall added.
“St. Louis is a city on the move and it’s going in the right direction,” Gill said.