PETER CRANIS: Brevard’s Destination Hotels Have Seen Strong Comeback Following COVID Pandemic

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Space Coast seeing tremendous growth in vacation rental inventory

PETER CRANIS: So, how are we doing in 2022? Much better. Across the county, Room Night Demand was up over 11% from 2019. In fact, when comparing ourselves to our peer set from 2022 to 2021, we have the highest room night growth of any of our peers such as other beach destinations like W. Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, St. Pete/Clearwater, Daytona, Sarasota and Jacksonville.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – As we were in the process of developing the 2023 Marketing Plan, I have been looking at a lot of data lately. It has been interesting to see the impressive increase in performance of hotels from 2019 to 2022. But before looking at 2022, let’s look back at what happened in 2021.

As you may recall, many in the hotel industry predicted that hotels would not recover for several years after COVID. Locally, we were impacted by cruising not occurring for about half of 2021. Passenger counts were down about 50% to 1.3 million unique passengers in 2021, and there was a definite impact on Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral hotels.

But let’s look at the numbers. I like to use Room Night Demand, or hotel rooms rented, as an indicator of success because this is the actual business we have driven – people renting hotel rooms.

In pre-COVID 2019 we rented 2.3 million hotel rooms in Brevard County. Then in 2020 that dropped to under 1.7 million. But, in 2021 it recovered back up to 2.3 million – remember this is without cruising for half the year!.

But, for Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral, the recovery was not as strong – in 2019, about 825,000 rooms were rented and the number went down to 500,000 in 2020 and in 2021 it was 702,000, so still not a full recovery.

But, we also have to factor in that we know approximately 200-250 rooms at the International Palms were taken out of circulation and unrented in 2021, which was about 91,000 rooms for the year. This is on top of the fact that cruising was severely hampered in 2021.

So, how are we doing in 2022? Much better. Across the county, Room Night Demand was up over 11% from 2019. In fact, when comparing ourselves to our peer set from 2022 to 2021, we have the highest room night growth of any of our peers such as other beach destinations like W. Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, St. Pete/Clearwater, Daytona, Sarasota and Jacksonville.

And even Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral without those rooms in inventory, which could be over 37,000 room nights through May, matched 2019 with 367,000 room nights rented – and that would have probably been over 400,000 room nights if the full inventory was available.

So, clearly our destination hotels have seen a strong comeback following a horrible 2020 – even Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral which had to deal with fewer cruises leaving Port Canaveral and less available room inventory – managed to get back to previous levels.

By the way, we are seeing tremendous growth in vacation rental inventory which is also no doubt affecting the hotel market in Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral. Vacation rental unit inventory grew over 24% from 2019 to 2021 and actual rentals of vacation properties increased by 18.6% in 2022, most of that is in Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral.

Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral should be happy with its performance given the obstacles and various factors it has navigated during this time. And certainly the county as a whole has recovered well. To get to where we are after only one year post-COVID and then see an increase of 12% for all lodging in 2022 vs. 2019, is certainly a reason to celebrate.

– Peter Cranis, Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director

PETER CRANIS: May Tourist Development Tax (TDT) has come in and the numbers came in at $1.979 million – a record for the month of May. This is 41% ahead of the previous high May which was $1.652 million.
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