BEND, Ore. - Central Oregon's tourism season is in full swing, But is Bend continuing to see an increase in tourists?
The answer is yes, but the numbers are slowing, at least when it comes to hotel bookings.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with Visit Bend on Tuesday about tourism trends, and although it has not been dramatic, there has been a drop-off in hotel rooms sold from 2016 to 2017-- about 29,000 fewer rooms were sold.
But that number was up again by about 14,000 rooms in fiscal year 2018.
Visit Bend CEO Kevney Dugan said it's tough to pinpoint exactly what might be causing the slight slowdown.
"You look at the smoke in Bend at the end of last year, you look at a winter starting off a little slow when you really depend on things like Thanksgiving and Christmas -- I know even Mt. Bachelor had a tough beginning," Dugan said.
"So how much of it is that, and how much is it just a destination maturing and finding its balance? It's hard to nail down exactly what's happening, but it's interesting to look at those numbers of rooms sold as a key indicator of the health of the industry," Dugan said.
Booking numbers are still high compared to what they were five years ago -- but the growth is not happening quite as quickly.
Despite that, Jeremy Nelson, the owner of Skjersaa's Ski and Snowboard shop in Bend, said there's not been much of a change in the day-to-day business, with a bit of a bump in stand-up paddleboard rentals.
"This summer, rentals have been a little bit better than the last couple of years," Nelson said. "We're not seeing huge increases, but we're definitely seeing increases in the number of people coming in here for sure. Part of that could be people moving here, as much as tourism, too."
Despite fewer rooms being booked, the transient room tax revenue continues to climb because room costs continue to go up.
Since 2013, the average rate for a hotel night in Bend rose about $21, from $108 to $129.
The city of Bend has seen an increase in revenue from the TRT. In 2015-2016, the TRT total came to $7,930,560. And in 2017-2018, it was $9,392,398.