The absence of about 200 hotel bedrooms due to Virginia Tech’s upcoming over-enrollment will likely cause logistical headaches, but it’s a “good problem to have,” said Lisa Bleakley, Montgomery County’s tourism director.
There are about 2,400 hotel rooms available in the county and Radford combined, she said.
About 200 rooms are set to go offline as Tech students are slated to move into a Holiday Inn Express on Plantation Road and at the Inn at Virginia Tech.
As many as 520 students, in the estimated 200 rooms, will call those two hotels home because of an on-campus housing crunch caused by an over-enrollment of 1,000 freshman students.
The county, though, has added about 400 hotel rooms in the past four years, Bleakley said. Those additional rooms, plus the proliferation of Airbnb in the area, will be able to absorb visitors.
During high traffic times, like football games or graduation, people might have to go out a little farther than they’re accustomed to. But they will be able to find places to stay in other parts of the New River Valley and in Roanoke, Bleakley said.
According to a study published in 2015 by the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development, visitors spent almost $6 million on gameday weekends over the course of a football season on hotels alone.
Nearly 1,100 Airbnb guests stayed in Blacksburg between May 16 and 19 for Tech graduation, Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco told The Roanoke Times last month. That compares to 850 guests between May 11 and 14 in 2018, when Virginia Tech hosted 2018’s graduation events.
Bleakley said she could understand some frustration from visitors about the potential for rising costs and the hassle of finding new accommodations, but she said she takes solace that locals in the hospitality industry will increase communication and work together to house visitors. Anytime people travel to Montgomery County, it’s a good thing, she said.
“It’s more people in our market and we’ll be able to handle them,” Bleakley said.