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Lower Hotel Occupancy Forces Cuts at the
 Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau
By Chris Megerian, The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 14, 2008 - Falling hotel occupancy is taking its toll on the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The nonprofit organization, which derives all of its discretionary income from hotel taxes within the city limits, said Thursday it is cutting $570,000 in spending this year, including $250,000 in salaries.

Hotel occupancy in metro Atlanta has dropped at faster rates than the national average.

Occupancy has fallen 4.9 percent so far this year, compared with 2.6 percent nationwide, according to Smith Travel Research.

Mark Vaughan, ACVB's chief sales and marketing officer, said Atlanta is harder hit because it is more dependent than other cities on business travel, which has slowed in the current economy.

Hotels in downtown and near the airport saw the steepest drops, with occupancy dropping 10.2 percent and 10.3 percent in June over the previous year.

Last year occupancy fell 2 percent.

Chief Financial Officer Gregory Pierce said salary cuts were achieved partly by furloughing the staff two days a month for the third quarter of the year, which started in July. Pierce said there have not been any layoffs.

Among other cuts, ACVB is:

--Reducing contributions to last year's pensions by $100,000.

--Eliminating $250,000 in programming and $70,000 in operating expenses.


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