Cornhuskers, dairy folk, others boost hotels

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Saturday, October 1, 2011
— Today’s Nebraska-Wisconsin football game is one of many events that will keep Janesville hotels packed this weekend and next.

While hotels were not sold out Friday, they were nearly full, said Christine Rebout of the Janesville Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau tracks occupancy rates and benefits from the city’s room tax.

Rebout said the business is good news and continues a trend that started in September after a poor showing earlier in the year.

“The first half of this year was really bad,” agreed Hampton Inn General Manager Dave Siker.

But people seem to be traveling more now, Siker said.

Siker said Nebraska fans had reserved about 12 rooms, “And I know we’re going to make them welcome here. It’s nice because it’s really not that far to get to Camp Randall Stadium. It’s about 45 minutes.”

The World Dairy Expo starts in Madison on Tuesday and continues through Saturday. That will help, too, but not as much as it used to because Madison is one of the few markets that has added hotel rooms in recent years, Siker said.

Siker is expecting a dairy expo tour bus from Fort Dodge, Iowa. Rebout said the group will spend an estimated $16,000 on lodging, meals, entertainment, and retail.

Also this weekend, the Holiday Inn Express is hosting the annual Badger Knife Show and a wedding. That makes the hotel close to full as well, with about 900 expected to attend, spending about $45,000, Rebout said.

Other draws this weekend are the Fall Bridal Expo at the Pontiac Convention Center and a gun show at the Rock County Fairgrounds.

The Holiday Inn Express, the Hampton Inn and the Baymont Inn also have bus tours scheduled in coming days, with thousands of dollars of expected economic impact.

A Baha’i faith conference at America’s Best Value Inn expects 200 attendees, Rebout said.

Janesville has 749 hotel rooms, Rebout said. The city charges an 8 percent room tax, the maximum allowed in Wisconsin.

The convention and visitors bureau gets 37.5 percent of room tax revenue, Rebout said. Last year, that amounted to $257,000. The rest of the money goes into the city’s general fund.

Rebout said the bureau converts each dollar into $12 or $13 for the local economy by promoting tours or bringing in groups for meetings.

Rebout said the Janesville bureau is one of the lowest-funded of its kind in the state. She said Beloit has about the same number of rooms, but its bureau gets 90 percent of the tax revenue.

Last updated: 6:49 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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