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Hotel Occupancy: Sign of the State of Our Economy?

Here’s some good news on the economic front. The Register’s business blog is reporting that Orange County hotel rates averaged $153.90 last year, an 8.4 percent increase over 2006. So this is great news for our local tourism sector, isn’t it?

Not so fast. It looks like while local hotel rates increased last year, occupancy hasn’t.

Hotel occupancy for the year, however, edged up only 0.2 percent to 75 percent, mostly because of the strong draw in 2006 during DisneylandÂ’s 50th anniversary celebration. The numbers confirm a preliminary report last month from the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau saying visitors spent a record $8.3 billion in 2007, up 4 percent from the year before.

And apparently, hotel occupancy in December 2007 was slightly lower than that in December 2006. So does this mean OC now must deal with a weaker tourism sector? Or do the overall numbers mean tourism is holding up quite well?

I want to hear what you have to say about the strength of OC’s tourism, and of OC’s economy. We all know how important tourism is to holding up our economy. So should we take the 2007 data as a sign of trouble or a sign of relief?

Tell me what you think.