Mountain travel: Summer occupancy remained robust
DENVER – The positive occupancy trend in mountain destinations continued during the month of August according to the most recent data released by the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP). Actual occupancy for August was up 9.6 percent compared to last August among participating resort destinations, while the average daily rate (ADR) was up 1.8 percent compared to the same time period. It was the second consecutive month for increases in both occupancy and rate. The outlook for September is currently optimistic with on-the-books occupancy as of Aug. 31 up 12.8 percent compared to the same period in 2009 although rate is down 1.8 percent compared to last year.
“Business in August continued with nearly the same robust results we saw in July and the September outlook is even better,” said Ralf Garrison, MTRiP’s founder and director. “After almost two years of sinking occupancies and rates, this three-month trend of strong summer performance at most of MTRiP’s participating destinations is worth acknowledging.”
However, the roller coaster economic news continues to confound upcoming projections. The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) moved up 4.9 percent in August while the Travel Price Index (TPI) moved up 0.6 percent, the seventh consecutive month of increases in the TPI – an increase attributed primarily to price hikes at the gas pump, airline and rail tickets, and lodging rates.
“This is the highest close of the TPI since pre-recession September 2008 and the momentum seems sustained,” said Tom Foley, MTRiP research analyst. “With nine consecutive months of year-over-year increases, this critical indicator contradicts many other segments of the U.S. economy and in recent months has outpaced the national inflation rate. Interestingly, it indicates the cost of recreation is recovering faster than the cost of living and that consumers are prioritizing or willing to accept some price increases to accommodate their travel and leisure plans.”
MTRiP also tracks advance reservations for the coming six months and the early preview for the next six months for September through February 2011 shows year-over-year advance reservations up 3.8 percent compared to the same time, for the same period last year while ADR is down 1.7 percent. Reservations made in August for arrivals in September through February are up collectively 5.6 percent from 2009.
“The factors driving the positive summer trend don’t necessarily translate into winter reservations,” said Garrison. “While the stage is now being set for the winter booking season, it’s still too early for the data to provide definitive direction and at this point, neither the economic outlook nor advance reservation data is showing any significant change over last year at this time.”
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