|By Sara K. Clarke, The Orlando Sentinel,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 20, 2012--Orlando's hotel industry started the busy summer season with a good showing in June compared with a year ago.
Hotels in the Orlando area filled 72.6 percent of their rooms during the month, compared with 69 percent during June 2011. And the average price for an overnight stay rose 3.6 percent, to $96.08, a sign that hoteliers took advantage of increased demand to push rates up.
In terms of year-over-year percentage growth, the local hospitality industry outpaced that of the state overall, according to data released Thursday by Smith Travel Research.
Paul Tang, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, said his hotel is doing well but not as good as last year because of the uncertain economy.
Orlando's main tourist submarkets -- Lake Buena Vista and International Drive -- shined brightest in June, filling the largest percentage of rooms and garnering the highest rates. In terms of year-over-year improvement, the West Kissimmee submarket logged the strongest gains in average occupancy and price; a year ago, it was filling only half its rooms and charging an average of little more than $50 a night.
Through the first half of the year, the Orlando market's occupancy averaged 72.8 percent, compared with 70.8 percent during the first six months of 2011. The average room price was $102.51, up 3.4 percent from the first half of last year.
But the growth -- at least the growth in occupancy -- is not expected to continue.
During a presentation Thursday to members of the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, the area's convention-and-visitors bureau, Visit Orlando, said forecasts show average occupancy is expected to end the year about even with 2011's. And next year, as the market works to absorb the added inventory generated by hotels including the new Disney's Art of Animation, occupancy is forecast to decline slightly, said Danielle Courtenay, Visit Orlando's chief marketing officer.
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