Probably more than a few Washingtonians were surprised when a planning firm announced that the results of a study that it made indicated the city could use another hotel/motel and small convention center.
There has been a small growth in bed and breakfast facilities in recent decades, to add to the number of lodging beds. We understand some of them do rather well as to their occupancy rate.
Washington has lost small convention business because of a lack of enough hotel-motel lodging, coupled with not enough convention space. We know that firsthand because we’ve tried to get the University of Missouri Journalism School Missouri Photo Workshop back to Washington. The last two times we failed because of the lack of enough hotel-motel facilities. About 70 to 80 beds are needed for a week, including facilities to process the film, hold workshop sessions and judging. Photo journalists from across the country, and from several foreign countries, attend.
The workshop results in quite a bit of publicity for the community. It has been held in Washington twice. We had the visiting photojournalists’ lodging scattered in the area, including in motels on Interstate 44 and in Union. The workshop staff prefers a single location whenever possible. The staff usually moves into a community on a weekend. In Washington on many weekends, the hotel-motel facilities are booked solid.
This area has become a location where weekend visitors are common. One reason is because of the many wineries we have. They have put this area on visitors’ maps. Then we have the nearby Katy Trail. The growth of this type of visitor is expected to continue. Also, there are many events downtown and on the riverfront, and others in this area that draw many visitors. The nearby population in the St. Louis metro area is an important factor in the visitor growth.
The study indicated the city could support a small convention center for about 300 people. We don’t doubt that. There is a strong potential for luring small conventions to Washington. That bodes well for our many restaurants. We have an increasing number of athletic events that bring some business to our hotels/motels.
The number of industries we have in the Washington area creates a need for lodging rooms. Many of the industrial visitors stay here for three or four days.
Many of these visitors came in company aircrafts and land at the Washington Regional Airport.
The study resulted after Downtown Washington, Inc., hosted the 2016 Missouri Main Street Downtown Revitalization Conference. The city and the Washington Tourism Committee funded the $12,000 study.
Studies such as this one verify often what already is known as to needs.