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HEARD ON THE BEAT / TOURISM

Hotel Rates Make Gains, but Occupancy Down 5%

March 27, 1998|Daryl Strickland

Orange County hotel rates, which trail other major markets, gained ground in January, but occupancy levels dropped more than 5%, according to a new survey.

While a surge of visitors attended this year's Rose Bowl, and commercial travel remains healthy, those gains were not strong enough to offset Mother Nature.

The average daily room rate climbed to $101.62 from $94.15 a year ago, an 8% increase. Hotels in South Orange County posted the biggest increase, as room rates rose 20% to $108 from $90.

But occupancy levels dipped to 61.45% from 65.5% a year ago, according to PKF Consulting, a Los Angeles-based firm that monitors the hotel market.

Anaheim hotels had the largest decline in occupancy--down 10% to 55.4% from a year ago, as El Nino rains showered theme parks and attractions, and a key music industry convention shifted to Los Angeles to avoid construction at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is being expanded.

Hotels showing the largest slump came in the $100 to $150 bracket, in which occupancy dropped nearly 11%.

But a survey representative believes occupancy levels will quickly recover. "Hotel people are saying we can't change the short term, but in the long term, we have a strong market," PKF spokesman Bruce Baltin said.

*

Daryl Strickland covers tourism and small and minority business issues for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670, and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

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