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In New Mexico, Albuquerque December 2008
 Hotel Occupancy 44.5%, Santa Fe at 42.8%

By Rivkela Brodsky, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

February. 9, 2009 --After months of declining occupancy rates for hotels throughout New Mexico, a pair of reports show another drop in December, although data indicate a slight uptick in business for the full year.

"We had an outstanding half year," said Dale Lockett, president and CEO of the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau. "There were strong gains in occupancy, demand and the average daily rate. But, in the last quarter of the year, we gave it all back."

A Smith Travel Research Inc. report shows a decline in occupancy from 47.1 percent in December 2007 to 44.5 percent in December 2008 for Albuquerque.

Numbers also indicate a slight increase in occupancy for the year, at 61.7 percent for 2008 compared with 61.3 percent for 2007. The report shows a 0.6 percent increase in occupancy for 2008 compared with 2007. It also shows a 3.3 percent increase in rooms sold in 2008 compared with 2007.

The Rocky Mountain Lodging Report shows similar numbers for December occupancy rates in Albuquerque at 46.3 percent in December 2007 to 43.2 percent in December 2008. It shows occupancy rates for all of 2008 dropping from 63.1 percent in 2007 to 62.1 percent in 2008. The average daily room rate for the year increased from $86.94 in 2007 to $89.20 in 2008.

Santa Fe dropped from a 49.9 percent occupancy in December 2007 to 42.8 percent in December 2008. For the year, occupancy dropped from 63.4 percent to 61.6 percent and the room rate fell from $126.29 in 2007 to $125.76 in 2008.

Statewide numbers show a similar trend for 2008, falling from 63.3 percent occupancy in 2007 to 61.5 percent, with the average daily rate rising from $92.26 in '07 to $93.90 in '08.

Art Bouffard, president of the New Mexico Lodging Association, said economic woes are primarily to blame for the decline.

"If you look at the numbers, the economy is really in the pits right now and people are holding back travel," he said.

Occupancy numbers began dropping in Albuquerque and Santa Fe in September. The state saw numbers start falling in June, according to the Rocky Mountain report.

Bouffard said the decline has meant services and employee cuts for hotels. He did not have any numbers for how many have lost their jobs due to cutbacks.

As for 2009, Lockett said "it's not going to be pretty."

"I don't see any indication right now that people will become more aggressive with their travel," he said.

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To see more of the Albuquerque Journal, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.abqjournal.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

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