Virginia Beach hotel bookings are down from past College Beach weekends

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Ahead of what the city dubbed “College Beach Weekend 2022,” several hotel owners say they’re not seeing the bookings they’ve typically seen in recent years.

Last Friday, City Manager Patrick Duhaney wrote to the City Council that social media posts indicated that approximately 30,000 people may gather in Virginia Beach for “unsanctioned college activity during spring break,” two weeks more sooner than expected.

However, on Thursday afternoon, one of those council members, who also owns a hotel, was unconvinced.

“We really don’t know what’s coming up this weekend because hotel reservations really haven’t shown up,” Councilman Linwood Branch said.

Branch owns the Days Inn by Wyndham on 10th Street. Following Thursday’s monthly Resort Advisory Board (RAC) meeting, where police again reiterated their plans to tighten both crowd and traffic control for the weekend, Branch said that in years past he had seen a higher demand for rooms.

“Normally you get the hotel reservations with the event. But this year it’s a bit different. It’s a lot less organized it seems and nobody really knows what’s going to happen. We’re going to just having to see how it goes,” Branch said.

Historically, College Beach Weekend is known as the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Weekend Students who come to the resort for a weekend of fun before the finals. Often the fourth weekend of April.

The weekend has been marred by violence in some years. Much of the community in the past has encouraged the city to find a way to make the event go awayperpetuating a reputation that the resort is not welcoming to people of color.

However, there was a level of optimism as station leaders emerged from Thursday’s meeting.

The city spent about $10,500 just to educate people about the weekend, as well as city resources.

Since the end of 2020, over $2 million has been invested in Oceanfront’s security initiatives. Virginia Beach police have now 22 new high definition surveillance cameras installed, with 20 more on the way, according to Captain Harry McBrien, with VBPD. He told RAC members that the cameras would be monitored in real time during major events.

Besides, ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology is fully functionalthe lighting is being improved, a sound system has been installed along the promenade and a the substation was opened along Atlantic Avenue between 21st and 22nd streets. McBrien said that while he still needs more work, his presence alone has made a difference in behaviors. He mentioned that he needed additional structural work to be fully functional.

The department is still down by about 85 officers. But McBrien said, so does crime.

“For the month of March 2022, compared to March 2021, crime is down over 70% in our area – that’s huge,” McBrien said. “Everyone working together brings those numbers down.”

McBrien said hotels are starting to book up, even though they aren’t there for College Beach Weekend. He said he looks forward to everyone coming to the resort for a fun and safe weekend.

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