In the most recent data compiled by the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP), analysts found that despite current economic uncertainties, lodging occupancy in western mountain destinations continues in an upward arc toward pre-recession levels. While nightly room and lodging rates remain essentially flat, occupancy in June 2011 was up 10.5 percent compared to June 2010 while the average daily rate was up only 1.6 percent. The report also tracks lodging activity for the previous six months (January-June) and during those months, actual occupancy was up 4.7 percent while the average daily rate was up 1.4 percent.
“As we predicted last month, despite ongoing turmoil in the broader market and more negative than positive economic news, we’re still seeing that mountain vacations this summer are a good match for consumers,” said Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP.
The remainder of the summer also shows occupancy growth outpacing last year, with on the books occupancy for the month of July as of June 30 up a strong 9.5 percent compared to the same period in 2010 although the average daily rate is up a scant 0.4 percent.
“The relatively steady lodging rates from last summer to this summer seem to be attracting financially sensitive travelers,” claimed Garrison. “Even though we are seeing minimal increases in the average nightly rate, the strong gains we are seeing in occupancy are giving a healthy boost to the bottom line.”
The monthly report also gathers and reports on reservations for the upcoming six months. Currently, on-the-books occupancy for the next six months (July-December) is up 7.2 percent from the same period in 2010 while the average daily rate mirrors the trend of the past six months by posting only a 1.3 percent increase.
The report emphasized the importance of the current political debate over raising the debt ceiling calling it “a pivotal moment in the history of the economy,” according to MTRiP analyst Tom Foley. Foley pointed out that dealing with the debt ceiling crisis as well as implementing “sustainable deficit reduction measures to avoid a second, and harder economic blow,” is vital for the overall economic recovery — including tourism.
Garrison cites good marketing tactics, a wide range of mountain-specific special events, and great value among the explanations for increases in mountain lodging in the midst of a still struggling economy.
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