TRENTON, NJ-On pace to break occupancy levels recorded prior to the recession, the lodging industry received a major boost in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy from displaced homeowners and construction workers who flocked to the state’s hotels and motels in late 2012.

According to date published by the state Treasury, New Jersey collected more than $87 million in state hotel and motel occupancy fees in 2012, far above the $80 million registered in 2011 and the $75 million posted in 2010, according to NJBiz.

The statewide hotel and motel vacancy rate in 2012 was flat at 7% as compared to a year earlier.

“The one silver lining to Sandy, as far as the lodging industry is concerned, is the storm finished off the cake by putting some icing on it—but the key thing is there was already cake on the table before it hit,” says Brian Tyrrell, an associate professor of hospitality and tourism management at Stockton College. “Without a doubt, the state’s lodging industry is the strongest it has ever been since 2005, since the next best 12-month period on record is $83.34 million in occupancy fees collected between August 2007 and August 2008.” See story in NJBiz.