Hankamer, with the Phoenix-based lodging and hospitalityservices group, says Houston is down just 7.1% in occupancy fromlast year. It's a relatively small drop in comparison to elsewhere.Dallas is down 35.7%, New York City, 41.6% and Los Angeles, 34.7%.She, like others in the industry, isn't laying the full brunt ofthe blame on the Sept. 11 attacks on America. The industry was in aslump long before Sept. 11. Last year's record pace was notexpected to be repeated by many industry watchers. But, the dropsbeing reported in all but Houston are unprecedented, she says.

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It's uncertain what the future holds for the industry. "Evenprognosticators are saying its anybody's guess," says Hankamer. Herstatistics are derived from one of the industry's recognizedleaders, Smith Travel Research, which could not be reached by presstime.

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What has been lost in room occupancy may be made up in meetingspace, says Mark Yanke, chairman of the Hotel & MotelAssociation of Greater Houston. Yanke says September finished witha high number of cancellations, but that has turned around. Aslocal companies get back to business, Yanke says year-end meetingsand strategy sessions at hotels are on the rise. Socialreservations, such as weddings, continue to be carried out, hesays.

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PKF Consulting too reports Houston has been outperforming 2000'space. From January through July's end, Houston's occupancy was69.8%, up 2.1% for the same period in 2000. Also up was the city'saverage daily room rate, standing at $90.85 in comparison to$89.28.

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Hankamer believes Houston's overall hospitality industry isstable and strong, due in part to a booming energy market. And,it's a plus that Texans like to travel in state, known forexcursions that are primarily weekend driving trips. It all stacksup to a buoyant hotel market in a down time. Still, sheacknowledges, today's hospitality industry is caught in a web ofcircumstances never before encountered.

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