The President's Desk

Charlotte’s Hospitality Revenues for 2018 are BEST ever

For nearly a decade, Charlotte region’s Hospitality and Tourism Business has been experiencing phenomenal growth with each year’s revenues exceeding the previous year.

We can now proudly say that we achieved our goal of having the best revenues ever for 2018, as the actual revenues recently reported by the Mecklenburg County for the fiscal year of 2018 (July 2017 - June 2018) indicate this fantastic achievement.

Let’s look at some of these hospitality revenues and figures for 2018 in Mecklenburg County:

6.78 Million rooms sold, up 3.0% from FY17
70.5% occupancy, down 1.4% from FY17 (due to increased number of hotels)
$782.5 Million in hotel revenue, up 6.6% from FY17
$115.41 ADR, up 3.5% from FY17
$62.6 Million in occupancy tax revenues (8% gross)
$3.5 Billion in food and beverage revenues, up 7% from FY17
$35 Million in food and beverage tax revenues (1% gross), up 7% from FY17

Let’s take a look at some of the catalysts which were responsible for this growth during the past year:

• Our magnificent Charlotte Douglas International Airport (6th busiest in the world) is soaring with a new $2.5 Billion expansion driven by its status as the second largest hub for the largest airline in the world (American Airlines).
• Corporate travel business, corporate relocations and construction of massive new office space are at an all-time high. 60% of hotel business in our region is corporate business.
• Repealing HB2 enabled our hospitality industry to reclaim major lost sporting events such as the NBA All Star (2019), ACC Football Championship games (2017-2030), NCAA events and more importantly, retain many other major events and conventions which could have been lost.
• We worked relentlessly for more than a decade to change North Carolina laws to allow the sale of alcohol before noon on Sundays, the “Brunch Bill”, passed last year to allow the sale of alcohol by 10AM on Sundays and has been a huge boost for food and beverage revenues here and across North Carolina.
Charlotte Convention Center is experiencing its best years ever, gearing up for major upgrades.
• Charlotte was a shining star in hosting one of the most prestigious and largest events in the world when it hosted the 2017 PGA Championship at the Quail Hollow Golf Club from August 7-13th. Charlotte and Quail Hollow Golf Club also hosted the magnificent Wells Fargo Championship from April 30th-May 6, 2018. Let the journey begin to bring the 2024 PGA Championship to Charlotte.
• With the 2017 Bank of America 500 Race, 2018 NASCAR All Star Race, and the 2018 Coca Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted hundreds of thousands of visitors for 3 of the best mega NASCAR events.
• We welcomed back the fantastic 2017 ACC Football Championship, the 2017 Belk Bowl, and the 2018 NCAA Regional Basketball Games, and had one of the best years for the remarkable CIAA Tournament in February of 2018. We also had a cause for more celebration as the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) committed to hold their annual college football champion games in Charlotte (Bank of America Stadium) through 2030.
• More determined than ever to upgrade Charlotte region’s status as a fantastic place for all sporting events and tournaments, we are going through rapid openings, renovations and additions of demand driven sporting venues for both professional and amateur sports.
• Our fantastic collection of first class hotel accommodations, dining and entertainment, arts, museums, attractions, parks and shopping are going through vast addition, expansion and upgrades.
• Our fantastic light rail system, which has been a mega economic development catalyst, doubled in size and impact when the extension to UNC Charlotte opened in March.
• As a top destination for young professionals and college graduates to move to, our “cool city USA” is rapidly enhancing its status with visitors and millennial friendly initiatives.

In addition to many of the above catalysts and our vastly improved hospitality assets, add the return of the fabulous International Soccer games to Charlotte (Liver Pool vs Borussia Dortmund on July 22nd), the upcoming 2019 NBA All Star Event, and the 2019 ACC & CIAA Basketball Tournaments at the Spectrum Center and you realize that the future is extremely bright for our industry.

Of course, let’s not forget the challenging, but awesome victory of securing the 2020 RNC for Charlotte. This means we have less than two years to prepare our region for one of the biggest and most visible events on the planet and we all need to pitch in to make the 2020 RNC a huge success.

I am truly honored by the enormous involvement of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality & Tourism Alliance’s members and know that their voices made a huge difference to gain the slim 6-5 approval from the City Council required the secure the convention. The significance of this massive convention for the Charlotte area’s hospitality business, your business and our region’s economy will absolutely be huge.

Getting this mega convention for Charlotte means:

• We began receiving global exposure immediately following the announcement on Friday, July 20th and will continue to receive the valuable coverage until the conclusion of the convention.
• We started receiving tons of business from different government and private business groups that are involved with convention preparations and security measures for the next two plus years.
• The convention will obviously be a mega business and job generator for hundreds of businesses (including the hospitality industry) in the Greater Charlotte area during the time that it is held here. The convention will draw approximately 100,000 people to our region for nearly a week.
• As we experienced with the 2012 DNC, many national and global business decision makers will have their first opportunity to experience our vibrant region for a period of time. This opportunity, alone, will be the biggest catalyst for our community to attract more business relocations and expansions for many years to come. The 2012 DNC was a major catalyst for the economic growth and prosperity of our region for the past few years.

I hope that you have your strategies in place to take advantage of this once in a lifetime business opportunity. We are ready to do what it takes to make sure our HTA members have plenty of opportunities to benefit from this event and have already embarked upon the massive work that is ahead of us to make Charlotte shine in hosting this event.

Finally, North Carolina is a welcoming state for more than 50 million visitors annually. Tourism generated visitors’ spending in our State exceeds $23.9 billion a year fueling growth throughout communities in North Carolina (NC).

The following are the top five counties in NC with the most generated economic impact from the hospitality and tourism business:

1. Mecklenburg County at $5.38 billion
2. Wake County at $2.26 billion
3. Guilford County at $1.40 billion
4. Buncombe County at $1.14 billion
5. Dare County at $1.13 billion

We are proud of our Charlotte area’s nearly $7 billion hospitality industry and it’s over 100,000 employees in the region. We have come a long way during the past two decades and are committed to work harder than ever to help with continued growth of our prosperous business.

A lot has happened over the past 25 years with our region’s Hospitality Industry and many have done their part to help its remarkable growth, but I am so proud of the vital role that the HTA has had to make this growth possible. For that, I am grateful for the leaders of the HTA, thankful to our unbelievably passionate and active membership of over 800 businesses, and our elected and civic partners.

2018 was by far the best ever for the Hospitality revenues in Charlotte. While our industry’s growth has been phenomenal due to our proactive actions and investment over the years, I know that the best is yet to come with the committed leadership and partnerships that our industry has in the Greater Charlotte area.

To you wonderful members of the HTA, I am truly honored and grateful for each of you for giving me the privilege of being an avid and relentless advocate for your business for the past 25 years. I cherish you and am more determined than ever to help with growing your business.

Thank you.

For membership information, please contact Carson Emily McMillan at (704) 331-0079 or