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Demand is key to managing Oxford’s hotel occupancy

As Oxford’s newest hotels start putting heads in beds, Visit Oxford expects hotel occupancy to drop slightly.

The Graduate hotel expects to open this fall and will offer 136 rooms. On Jackson Avenue East, the new Courtyard Marriot is also expected to open in the fall adding another 120 beds to the city’s hotel room inventory. Next door to the Marriot, a smaller boutique hotel, Grove Suites, will have 24 rooms and is currently under construction.

More hotels are expected to open in 2016 and 2017 including the Chancellor’s House on the corner of South Lamar Boulevard and University Avenue and a Home2Home long-term hotel off South Lamar down near Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi.

With the hotels planned today, which seem to be growing each month, there will be more than 1,000 hotel rooms in Oxford. Right now, they’re about 600 rooms.

While occupancy may go down, Visit Oxford Assistant Director Kenny Ferris said what’s more important to track is the demand.

Occupancy for June was at 77 percent, which was down slightly from June 2014.

“Supply is up 13.7 percent and demand is also up 10 percent,” Ferris reported Wednesday at the Oxford Tourism Council meeting. “As we see more rooms added to our inventory our occupancy might go down, it’s important to look at demand. We need the demand for rooms to stay at an upward trend.”

The hotel/motel tax, as well as the 2 percent food and beverage tax, continues to climb. In May, the hotel/motel tax brought in $30,930, up 34 percent from May 2014.

The 2 percent food and beverage tax climbed 21 percent more than May 2014, bringing $222,109 into the city.

Also on Wednesday, Ferris reported a sign unveiling for the Faulkner Scenic Highway on Highway 30 would be held on Sept. 25 to correlate with William Faulkner’s birthday. The state Legislature approved the designation earlier this year in honor of Faulkner who often drove from Oxford to Holly Spring, where he was born.

Faulkner was born on Sept. 25, 1897 in New Albany in a house on the corner of Jefferson and Cleveland streets to Murry and Maud Falkner. Faulkner later added the “u” to the spelling of his name. In 1898, just 14 months after Faulkner was born, he and his family moved to Ripley until September 1892 when they moved to Oxford.

More details will be provided closer to the event.