It's been 10 months since Hurricane Harvey. Where is Port Aransas now?
Deven Bhakta, the owner of a 74-unit Holiday Inn Express, is still working on repairing his now-closed hotel. It sustained such massive damage that it hasn't even been able to partially open—Deven said he doesn't expect it to be ready until January 2019. Hurricane Harvey set him back years, and he's not the only one.
Most of Port Aransas' rental stock is in hotels, motels, and vacation homes right now. Jeff Hentz, the president and CEO of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, said that he expects most vacation homes to re-open by this summer, with hotels following in the fall. However, in total, only half of total lodging in Port Aransas will be ready for the summer tourism season.
That's not good, according to Jeff. "Having 50 percent of the lodging not available during peak season is a huge gut punch to us."
Port Aransas' Recovery Relies on the Hospitality Industry
As we reported in a previous blog, Port Aransas needs its hotels, vacation homes, and condos to be available for rent. Up until March, Jeff expected at least 75-80 percent of the lodging in the city to be ready for use this summer—why the delay? He blames slow insurance processes and contractor shortages. Otherwise, people would be able to rebuild their properties more quickly.
A large chunk of the city's annual earnings before Hurricane Harvey was tax revenue from short-term rentals. Last year, the city made $4.8 million in occupancy taxes from short-term rentals. This year, 8 months into the fiscal year, Port Aransas stands to make only $780,000 in occupancy taxes.
It's not all bad news. Eighty percent of restaurants and sixty percent of shops are back open for the summer season, and sales tax revenue is down only 11% this year—less than you might expect. In fact, March 2018's sales tax revenue exceeded the same period's earnings by 4%. It's small, but it's significant. The city is beginning to make baby steps back onto its feet.
If you're in Corpus Christi, make a day trip to Port Aransas. The city has said that the influx of day-trippers staying in Corpus Christi has helped keep the local economy afloat. As we'll point out in next week's blog, the people of Port Aransas need you to visit.
If your Port Aransas windstorm claim isn't being handled quickly by your insurer, call Arnold & Itkin. We've helped our clients secure billions of dollars by forcing large companies to do the right thing. Let us help you: call (888) 400-2101 today.