|By Andrea Ahles, Fort Worth
Star-Telegram, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
September 24, 2008 - It was the summer of staycations -- and that was not good news for the local hotel industry.
Even though attendance at local attractions was up this summer, fewer people stayed at Fort Worth and Arlington hotels in August.
And for those who did check into local hotels, their stays seemed to be shorter than last year.
"People did day trips, or they stayed one night instead of three," said David DuBois, chief executive of the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The hotel occupancy rate in Fort Worth dropped by 11 percent to 63 percent in August.
In Arlington, the hotel occupancy rate declined 5.6 percent to 66.9 percent.
Both bureaus cited the slowing economy as the main reason for emptier hotels and slumps in business and leisure travel.
With the renovated Sheraton Fort Worth opening in late June, downtown Fort Worth had an extra 400 hotel rooms available each night.
While DuBois said the new rooms have had an impact, the occupancy rate downtown is down about 7 percent in August to 68 percent, compared with 73 percent last year.
"We sold less rooms and had more inventory," said DuBois, adding that there were fewer meetings and conventions downtown this summer than last.
Six Flags Over Texas appeared to have strong attendance this summer, but it did not necessarily translate to more rooms being used in the city's entertainment district.
The hotel occupancy rate in the entertainment district declined 3.3 percentage points to 68.6 percent this August.
However, the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau said it sold more vacation packages this summer on its Web site than last year and has booked 61,623 convention room nights, the most ever, during its fiscal year that ends Tuesday.
"We look at it as a successful summer but the one glaring number there is the occupancy number being slightly down," said Jay Burress, Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau chief executive.
Hotel occupancy rates for August
Sources: Fort Worth and Arlington convention and visitors bureaus
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