Business, government and tourism leaders are tallying up the financial impact of the 2023 Masters Golf Tournament and all are showing a return to pre-COVID-19 numbers.
One thing everyone agreed on is that this year marked the return for what they were calling a “full blown” Masters Week, a return to pre-pandemic levels, in both number of visitors and excitement.
Destination Augusta reports the Augusta/Richmond County lodging sector saw substantial gains in revenue compared to the same time last year. Destination Augusta uses two companies that specialize in data for the accommodations industry.
For hotel/motel data, Destination Augusta uses a company called STR. According to its website “STR provides premium data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights for the global hospitality industry.”
The report says both hotel/motel revenue and average daily rate (ADR) were up this year. Hotel/motel revenue climbed by 11.5% with total revenue of just under $18.5 million. The ADR also showed a double-digit increase. The daily rate was just a few cents shy of $480, which is an increase of 10.9%
The short-term rental sector is also a major component of accommodations for golf fans and source of revenue for property owners. For that information, Destination Augusta turns to AirDNA.
“AirDNA is the leading provider of data and analytics for the $140 billion-dollar short-term rental industry,” the company website explained. “AirDNA has developed advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that allows us to accurately track and forecast the revenue potential of any property in the world.”
Tallying up the total revenue and ADR, AirDNA reported a 38% increase in revenue for short-term rentals for tournament week. The ADR increased, as well. It was $820 per day, an increase of 14.5% over the 2022 report.
Another barometer Destination Augusta had was foot traffic at their storefront, Augusta and Company, on Broad Street.
“When I was downtown, even in the middle of the day, and I can tell by Augusta and Company traffic, we felt the vibe,” said Bennish Brown, President and CEO of Destination Augusta. “We feel the vibe in the Women’s Amateur that begins to get it started because a lot of those families are here with those collegiate players. And we could feel it beginning to start people who don’t even have tickets to the Masters are in town to just experience what Augusta feels like.”
The numbers reflect Brown’s observations, both in the number of people who visited the store and sales figures.
“Masters Week 2023 gross sales were up an estimated 21% above 2022 Masters Week gross sales,” said Jennifer Bowen, Destination Augusta’s VP of Destination Development and Community Engagement. “Masters Week gross sales are an estimated 78% higher than an average week in the Spring.
An estimated 585 people visited the store during Masters Week. Bowen said that is 46% higher than an average week’s visitors in the store.
At Augusta Regional Airport, managers are still crunching the numbers, like how many commercial and private planes landed and took off, the amount of money from pilots renting parking space for long-term visitors, the amount of jet fuel sold along with an assortment of other income streams that are impacted starting with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Drive, Chip and Putt and the Masters Tournament.
Airport Executive Director Herbert Judon, Jr. said they have started an after-action review with team members and airport departments.
“We’ve been building on that every single year, and we’re starting to really see the benefits of that. This year, we also had an additional paved area in the north end of the airport. So that gave us a little bit more aircraft parking capacity as well. This was about six or seven years I’ve been here. This was by far the best,” he said.
Lauren Smith, the airport’s assistant director of Marketing and Public Relations, said passengers coming through the airport appeared especially impressed with the display in the baggage claim area. A partnership between the airport and Destination Augusta, the colorful display highlights all Augusta has to offer.
“So of course, we have hundreds of thousands come through, and they all stop at baggage claim. And you really saw them look and take note of what the area has to offer. They went through the Destination Augusta visitor guides and we had to restock those multiple times because they were flying off the shelves,” she said. “We hope that in turn it increased the tourism to some of the other businesses and organizations around here that week.”
Judon told members of the Aviation Commission at their April 27 meeting that he will be able to give them a full report on the financial impact of this year’s tournament during their regular meeting in May.