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18-hour city: Downtown Austin alcohol sales record-high as tourism recovers

(Roosevelt Room/Facebook)

Nightlife is back and better than ever as Austin emerges as an “18-hour city.”


Austin’s tourist and hospitality sectors have seen a surge in revenue showing a complete picture of pandemic recovery, according to the Downtown Austin Alliance’s State of Downtown Report, which was released earlier this month.

For 18 hours straight, Austinites are enjoying what the city has to offer, only dropping off between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Mixed alcoholic beverage sales downtown reached a record $40.8 million in March this year, nearly matching in April with $40.7 million in sales. Rainey Street and West 6th are neck and neck in terms of sales but the latter wins out in terms of foot traffic; meanwhile, data shows East 6th has become the least popular party district.

The return of nightlife goes hand-in-hand with the recovery of hotel occupancy, which reached 98% of the average traffic from 2017-2019. High hotel prices are also back, reaching $216 of revenue per room in April and $198 in May, surpassing the average from the same time frame.

One of Austin’s biggest tourism seasons occurs in October, when events like ACL Festival and Formula 1 attract visitors from around the world, a pattern that mirrored previous years in 2021. Tourism tracks through airport traffic as well, which is at an all-time high.

Downtown’s COVID-induced need for rentals has also cooled to pre-pandemic levels, with the help of two million square feet of new residential space and another 2,161,727 square feet of office, residential and retail space currently under construction.

However, for-sale housing inventory is still at an all-time low, with fewer than two months of inventory–around 50 listings–in Q4 of 2021.

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(Valencia Hotel Group)

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