After months of an economic slump, hotel occupancy is slowly trending in the right direction for local tourism officials.

Manhattan Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Karen Hibbard says this has been a great start to 2021 as the community begins to see more and more people get their vaccines, allowing the public to get back to those activities that they enjoy.

“So this coming Tuesday, we will be speaking to the city commission with our first quarter report to the city, and as we have put that together it has really caused us to reflect on all the activities that have taken place that is moving us forward again to being back to more of the Manhattan that we are familiar with,” Hibbard said. “We will be highlighting the activities of the first quarter. Last time we talked we were very excited because we were going to be hosting a state basketball tournament.”

Hibbard described this as a success with noted limitations, as the community welcomed only 4100 fans during the championship game, which Hillsboro Boys and Stirling Girls were the champions. Hibbard notes that those schools that came to participate were, “So thrilled to be able to not only come to Manhattan but to have that opportunity to be as normal can in a pandemic”.

Manhattan typically welcomes close to 10,000 fans for this tournament, for a four-day stay, and Hibbard believes that next year, Manhattan will see more of a normal tournament. The economic bump seen in February showcased a 41% occupancy rate and continual increases.

During the second week of March, hotels saw a 51.3% occupancy, which was the first time that the CVB saw an upward trend. In the third week of March, occupancy sat at 57%, and during the fourth week of March, occupancy was at 55%. Compared to one year ago, the third week of March in 2020, local hotels had a 27% hotel occupancy, and the fourth week had only a 21% hotel occupancy.

Absent 72 rooms, from the loss of the Hampton Inn due to the January 20th fire, owners opted to not reopen, but shortfalls in occupancy will be fulfilled when the Courtyard at Marriott opens in July on the corner of 12th and Bluemont.

“That will be a good addition to our community, but our job is to get people to come in. For our occupancy in our hotels to be sitting so vacant for so long, it’s very much a concern. So we are eager for activities and for just business to begin to hum again,” Hibbard said. “For us all to be successful, from lodging to shopping, dining, attractions, and events, it just makes an active community even that much more active.”

To learn more about events on the horizon, visit

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