|By Mike Gorrell, The Salt Lake
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Apr. 29, 2008 - As further evidence of a weakening economy, hotel occupancy rates statewide dropped almost 7 percent in March, compared with the same month a year earlier.
Hotels in Salt Lake County filled 73 percent of their rooms last month, down from 80 percent in March 2007. The statewide occupancy rate similarly slipped, to 69 percent last month from 75 percent the previous March, according to the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.
Through February 2007, Utah hotels had experienced 28 months of steady increases in both occupancy levels and nightly room charges. But over the past year, lodging establishments have reported mixed results, some posting slightly better results than a year earlier, while others were down a bit.
But none of those months featured drops as large as those in March, Lodging Report records showed.
One consolation for the industry last month was that hotels were able to charge more per room per night. Statewide, the nightly fee went up from $106 in March 2007 to $114 last month. In Salt Lake County, the rate rose from $92 to $102.
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