HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — As COVID-19 cases decline and the weather warms up again, entertainment and tourism events are ramping up.
Just a few years ago, downtown Huntsville struggled to keep up with lodging demands on busy weekends. But now, that shouldn’t be the case.
In the last three years, downtown Huntsville has doubled its number of hotels.
“We are now up to over 900 sleeping rooms in downtown Huntsville alone,” said Charles Winters, executive vice president of the Huntsville-Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are at a point where hotel room demand is at or above pre-pandemic levels, so going back to 2019, which was a banner year for us, 2022 is shaping up to be just as strong if not even stronger.”
Winters said the city’s tourism weathered the pandemic well.
“We seemed to fair better than a lot of other locations, and I do believe anecdotally, part of that was because of the construction we had going on. We had workers who had to stay locally.”
He says events like the Panoply Arts Festival, just highlight the need for convenient lodging.
“So there will literally be thousands of folks in Big Spring International Park,” said Winters. “There will be other events and activities going on in the Von Braun Center.”
Chad Emerson with Downtown Huntsville Inc. says additional hotels come from years of work.
“We actually did one of the early studies that really showed more people want to be downtown,” Emerson told News 19. “So that’s all around 2015 to 2017. I think what you’re seeing now is the fruits of a lot of planning. People are coming to downtown more than ever.”
Emerson says the city’s effort to amp up lodging capacity and to promote tourism won’t be slowing down.
“It’s exciting and rewarding when you have a plan from 10 years ago, and that plan is coming together,” Emerson continued. “And we aren’t satisfied. We are going to be even better, but the fact is that 10 years ago, you would not have recognized this downtown.”
There are already plans in motion to build two more hotels in downtown in the near future, one off Constellation Avenue and another near Big Spring Park.