Incoming Virginia Tech students taking over Blacksburg hotels

Inns, tourism experts talk impact, strain on community

By Lindsey Kennett - Reporter

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Virginia Tech says it has finally found enough beds for the nearly 1,000 unexpected incoming students this fall. However, families and tourists visiting Blacksburg will have to find somewhere else to stay.

About 325 students will be housed on three floors of the Inn at Virginia Tech. All 200 beds at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Blacksburg will house students this year.

That means that guests who had reservations have to find rooms elsewhere.

"Definitely a ripple effect for sure," said Joshua Roseberry, the Clay Corner Inn general manager.

He said he's already fielding calls from families concerned about where they'll stay for orientation, home football games, parents weekend or graduation.

"It's put a lot of pressure on the area to be able to handle this increase," said Roseberry.

Virginia Tech still plans to hold events at the Skelton Conference Center. There will be limited rooms for other guests of the inn on the fourth floor.

Montgomery County Regional Tourism Director Lisa Bleakley said there will be frustrations, however other hotels across the New River Valley and Roanoke will be able to absorb the overflow.

Summer and fall are usually the busiest seasons, especially come football season.

Bleakley's not worried about the area losing money, though. Her office is mostly funded by the occupancy tax and she said it won't take huge hit.

"The town will recover that revenue that they would have received," Bleakley said.

Virginia Tech says it will learn from the experience.

"We're going to look at the students we have now, we're gonna make sure that they're well-cared for and maintained and taken care of and that will inform the way we recruit and accept our students in the future," said Mark Owczarski, the assistant vice president of university relations. 

Roseberry said the small town can't sustain the huge influx of students and their families forever.

"Short-term, a lot of stress," Roseberry said. "Long-term, hopefully everything will work out."

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