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Monday, Sep 26, 2022
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28 Million Tourists on the Way in ’07

In terms of occupancy, San Diego’s lodging industry isn’t likely to finish the year as the nation’s No. 1 destination, not with Honolulu and New York City in the fray.

But there’s a chance that the county’s inns, which performed like the drum- banging Energizer Bunny this summer despite record-high gasoline prices, record-high temperatures, and soaring airfares, will be among the top five.

Of greater importance to local hotel owners and operators, however, is the expectation that more tourists will be coming and spending more money here in 2007 than they did this year.

According to a “modest growth” projection published earlier this fall by the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, the visitor tally will increase from 27.6 million in 2006 to 28 million in 2007, while direct visitor spending will go up from $6 billion to $6.3 billion.

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Weather and OPEC’s ability to rein in the cartel’s oil supply notwithstanding, one challenge facing individual owners and operators next year will be a countywide room inventory, which is expected to add 2,053 room.

However, a “straw poll” of some 20 hotel executives taken during a recent board meeting of the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association revealed that they are confident 2007 will be another strong year for tourism, said ConVis President and Chief Executive Officer David Peckinpaugh.

“The Convention Center is booked to the gills,” Peckinpaugh said. “So the indications are bullish.”

Hotels ended 2005 with an average occupancy rate of 71.4 percent. If a 2 percent increase can be achieved this year, as expected, that would bring occupancy to 72.8 percent. ConVis projects another 1 percent increase to 73.5 percent in 2007.

Meanwhile, the outlook for local attractions is also very healthy. Anticipated attendance for 2006 is 13.2 million a 5.3 percent hike from 2005, and for 2007 the count is expected to increase to 13.7 million.

Anticipations are that the San Diego Convention Center will make the greatest stride, however.

After achieving attendance of 494,150 in 2005, the agency that markets and sells space in the 2.6 million square-foot waterfront facility in downtown, is expected to achieve a 3.6 percent increase that will bring attendance to 511,881 this year. The forecast is for 571,600 conventioneers in 2007, a bump of 11.7 percent.

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