View Full Version : June tourism wasn't so hot

08-25-2004, 03:31 AM
Wet weather, fewer conventions and the Spurs' exit from the playoffs cut into hotel bookings.

Web Posted: 08/25/2004 12:00 AM CDT

Melissa S. Monroe
Express-News Business Writer

The month of June turned out to be dismal for San Antonio's $7 billion tourism industry, with fewer people staying in hotels because of a thin convention schedule and the wet weather.

Also, the Spurs' loss in the NBA playoffs this year dragged down occupancy rates as compared with those during the team's championship run in June 2003.

But tourism officials say it could have been worse because it was widely expected that June would be slow. Going into that month, there was a 32 percent decline in hotel rooms booked for June, compared to a year ago the largest dip in rooms booked for the year.

"The big reason for me is because the Spurs didn't make it through the playoffs," said Rick Ueno, general manager of the 473-room Westin Riverwalk San Antonio. "Last year, we had a ton of business from the (TV) networks and NBA teams (staying at the hotel). This was somewhat anticipated. It's not as if something went wacko."

Ueno added that many downtown hotels experienced declines in June. He estimates his hotel had about a 10 percent dip in occupancy from the previous June.

Overall, San Antonio's hotel occupancy dropped 8.3 percent to 69.5 percent in June, compared with the previous year. San Antonio was the only city among its major regional competitors New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Dallas and Phoenix that had such a decline.

But San Antonio had the second-highest overall occupancy in June among that group and was above the Texas average.

Downtown hotels were affected the most. It's estimated there was an 11.7 percent decline in occupancy and a 17.3 percent drop in revenue per room.

Revenue per available room is an indicator of a hotel's fiscal health because it takes into account both room rate and occupancy.

Hilton Palacio del Rio general manager Siegfried Richter said his downtown property also experienced declines in June, which is typically a busy month. But he said he's more worried about September.

"It's turning out to be slower than June," Richter said. "We knew we wouldn't have a great year in '04. This is a good time to do room rehabilitation and train employees. Sometimes it's feast or famine."

The San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates that September will see just a 6.1 percent increase in hotel rooms booked from a year ago, one of the smallest rises this year.

With fewer tourists staying in hotels, the city's hotel tax collections dropped 10.3 percent in June from the previous year. Year to date, the city's hotel tax collections have increased 3.7 percent to $29 million.

"It definitely had to do with the fact that we had one of the wettest Junes in history, and that had an impact on leisure business," said bureau spokesman Robert Salluce. "Also, (June) 2003 had powerhouse conventions and the NBA Finals added to that."

Salluce added that this June is softer in terms of conventions, but this July is looking to be better than last July.

It's estimated that in July there were 30.1 percent more hotel rooms booked and seven more conventions planned from a year ago, including gatherings of the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Texas Bandmasters.

Nationwide, hotels had a positive first half of the year. Smith Travel, a leader in lodging industry tracking and analysis, said occupancy increased 4.3 percent to 60.5 percent vs. a year ago. Also, hotel room rates were up 3.7 percent to $86.48 and revenue per room increased 8.2 percent.