Sales tax collections are considered a good barometer for economic prosperity in any given community.
Rome and Floyd County will get a clearer picture of the economic impact of the COVID-19 over the course of the next couple of months, but the hospitality industry is already feeling the impact.
Gay Nichols, general manager of the Hawthorn Inn & Suites by Wyndham said Friday that she’s already had six large groups cancel reservations for future stays. One of them accounted for 320 room nights.
The decision by the Atlantic Coast Conference to suspend all spring sports means that the ACC tennis championships are in jeopardy. If it is called off that’s 15 women’s teams and 13 men’s teams who won’t be staying in local hotels and eating in Rome restaurants in mid-April.
Ann Hortman, director of the Rome Sports Commission said a final decision is expected later this week but that she remains optimistic the tournament will go on as planned.
The United States Tennis Association Georgia Bowl tennis tournament, one of the largest at the Rome Tennis Center each year, which had been scheduled for March 21-23 has also been canceled. That’s another 200-plus teenagers and their families that won’t be coming to Rome.
“It’s hitting us hard. We’re getting early check-outs and cancellations right and left,” said Penny Miller, general manager at the Hampton Inn & Suites downtown. “It’s going to be hard to come back from.”
Miller said thus far, most of the cancellations are through the end of April, but she is concerned about the future.
Anil Patel, owner of both the Holiday Inn Express and Country Inn & Suites on Hobson Way in East Rome said both of his properties are seeing group cancellations day-by-day.
“Occupancy is in the mid-teens at both locations,” Patel said. He said most of the reservations that are being canceled are over the course of the next six weeks.
Robert Sasseville, the tournament director for many of the large youth tennis tournaments that are played in Rome, said that he does expect, at this time, the National Level 2 Boys and Girls 16/18 championships to be held as scheduled in Rome May 16-19.
A number of spring events scheduled at The Forum River Center have been postponed, Thomas Kislat, a marketing executive for both the Office of Tourism and Forum River Center said.
Floyd Against Drugs has decided to postpone the Murder Mystery Dinner scheduled on March 19. A cheer and dance event set for March 21 has been postponed as has a home and garden show on April 4.
The annual Rome Prayer Breakfast that was scheduled for May 7 has been postponed to a date in the fall.
“As long as they postpone, we are good,” Kislat said. “We’re trying to make everything to work to postpone events and not cancel them.”
The impact of lost revenue in march and April will start to show up in the April and May sales tax revenue reports.