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Bountiful, Utah Area Leads the State in 2009 Hotel Occupancy at 63%;
Government and Military Travel Helped Buffer the Region

By Dan Weist, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, UtahMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

January 1, 2009 --LAYTON -- For most of 2009, Davis County has led the state in keeping its hotels filled with customers, according to a report done by a hospitality consulting firm.

The Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, a monthly survey sponsored by the Utah Hotel & Lodging Association, shows Davis County occupancy rates have regularly topped all other Utah regions since April.

Bob Benton, a Denver based hospitality consultant, believes the presence of Hill Air Force Base buffered the region from losing as much as other regions.

"We saw leisure travel go down; we didn't see a similar decline in government or military travel," said Benton, who helps compile the Utah survey numbers.

The Rocky Mountain reports show Davis County has consistently been in the top three regions for occupancy since 2006.

The Salt Lake region, with nine times the number of available room nights, normally leads the list.

"Hotel occupancy rates are a general reflection of the economy," said Benton, who helps survey 12 areas of the state for lodging statistics.

For the first 11 months of 2009, the average occupancy was more than 63 percent for the 28,000 room nights available in Davis, according to Benton. In all of 2008, the occupancy rate was 67.4 percent.

Tourism officials said the popularity of Antelope Island activities and other events contributed to Davis County's numbers.

"Our team will exceed its room night booking goal ... for 2009, which is exciting news considering the economic climate," said Barbara Riddle, Davis Area Convention and Visitors Bureau President.

Most of Utah has dropped in total lodging numbers since the fall of 2008.

Among the 12 regions surveyed, the Utah mountain resorts are lumped together for their own statistic.

Benton said the lodging pattern of advance booking recently has changed for Utah ski resorts.

"If the snow is not good, they go someplace else. Now, ... they make last minute reservations," he added.

Benton said the lower military reimbursement rate for hotel rooms does drop how much money Davis County hotel owners can make booking travelers connected to Hill.

Utah County rounds out the top three regions in room bookings.

Ogden consistently sits among the top six regions in the annual numbers since 2006.

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