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Hotel Occupancy Drops Sharply in New Mexico; Albuquerque at 48.9%
 and Santa Fe at 44.3% Reported for November 2008

Albuquerque Journal, N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

December 24, 2008 - --New Mexico's hotel occupancy rates in November fell to 48.5 percent this year compared to 55.2 percent in November 2007, according to the monthly lodging report issued by the New Mexico Lodging Association.

"All our members are trying to cut expenses ... but it's a laborintensive industry," said Art Bouffard, president of the New Mexico Lodging Association. "They're laying off people -- what else can I tell you?"

In Albuquerque, the report showed that occupancy rate was down to 48.9 percent in November compared to 56.9 percent in the same month last year, and average daily room rate also dropped from $85.46 in November to $83.73 in the same month last year.

Santa Fe's November occupancy rate was down to 44.3 percent compared to 53.3 percent in November 2007. The average room rate dropped from $112.37 to $110.90 in the same time frame.

Paul Margetson, general manager of Hotel Santa Fe in Santa Fe, said his hotel has had to lay off workers. "Taking into consideration what's happening in the world at large, we're doing what we can to cut costs and remain a firstclass hotel," he said. "I think it will be second quarter of '10 before we see a good bounce-back."

Business travelers still have to go to meetings, Bouffard said, but leisure travelers and tour buses are not coming as they once did. That spells trouble for restaurants, shops and city government. Gross receipts tax revenues already are down in several cities as are the lodgers' tax revenues that are typically earmarked for various promotions.

For that reason, he said, Lodging Association members are talking about going to the state Legislature to ask for more money for the state Tourism Department.

"Right now, $2.7 million annually is earmarked for promotion and marketing," Bouffard said. "We'd like to see (that) increased by at least $5 million.

Another idea under consideration is a new food-and-beverage tax as permanent revenue source for the Tourism Department. "This is only in the talking stage," he added.


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