Resilience in our Region
Summer tourism numbers in the Berkshires post 2020 suggest a bright future.
By Jonathan Butler
Posted to the Berkshire Edge on September 13,
Editor’s note: This article was authored in collaboration with 1Berkshire’s Marketing team.
As we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of COVID-19, it is important to track the progress of the visitor economy, both its challenging downturns and its promising rebounds. In 2020, US Travel research predicted that drivable destinations with access to outdoors and open space would dominate travel for the foreseeable future. This appears to be true for the Berkshires, as evidenced by the many visitors who have flocked to our beautiful natural resources and rich, expansive cultural venues.
To ensure our ongoing success and understand more about these travelers, 1Berkshire conducted a visitor perception and demographic research project this past summer. In addition to understanding who is traveling to the Berkshires, our goal, as we move forward in this new world, is to sustain new and retain return visitorship. To this end, it was valuable to confirm through this project that new visitors are trending younger (between the ages of 25 and 45), and that they are still primarily arriving from New York City and Boston metro areas. Interestingly, we are also drawing a bit from farther afield, such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Awareness of our region has grown in our primary feeder markets since our last survey in 2013, and perception continues to be exceptionally positive. Four out of five visitors are likely to recommend travel to the Berkshires. Lastly, as a tie into the travel trend noted above by US Travel, outdoor recreation is the number one attraction listed for visiting the Berkshires.
Conclusions drawn from this research can be witnessed in real time throughout the tourism industry. Hospitality, one of the hardest-hit sectors during last year’s lockdown, is now struggling to meet demand. The Red Lion Inn was booked at nearly 100 percent capacity for all summer weekends with this trend continuing until November. TOURISTS, which opened its doors in 2018, had experienced only a single summer of operation before closing March through June of 2020. Nina Zacek Konsa, TOURISTS’ General Manager noted, “We reopened in July 2020 with a safety-forward operational model, which meant we were open for long weekends—only a single party occupied each room—and we required a vacancy of at least 72 hours between stays. Even with these restrictions in place, comparing 2021 to 2020, our occupancy increased by 92.5 percent for the months of July and August. We’re hopeful for a fruitful 2022 and that this wonderful Berkshire growth we’ve been seeing and have deeply invested in continues.”
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