(Carl Cronan is editor of RealEstateFlorida.)

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TAMPA, FL-New hotel rooms are a welcome sight to travelers, butmay not work out so well for existing operators. An industry reportshows hotels in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market are losing at least10% of their revenue per available room compared with a yearago.

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The latest "RevPAR Roominations" report by J.P. MorganSecurities Inc. points to the Tampa Bay area as being among thenation's laggards in this key measurement of hotel performance. Forthe week ending April 19, Tampa-St. Petersburg RevPAR declined10.5% over the year, with only Phoenix suffering a worse loss at17%.

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Those declines appear steep against a national RevPAR decreaseof 3.1% over the past year, partially attributed to fewer roomsbeing reserved during Passover, which fell on April 20 this year.However, another likely factor is an abundance of new hotels beingbuilt in areas experiencing falling revenue, creating greatercompetition to attract overnight guests, says C. Patrick Scholes,lodging analyst with J.P. Morgan in New York City.

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"New supply doesn't help you raise rates," Scholes tellsGlobeSt.com. Approximately 2,000 rooms are set to open in and nearTampa in time for Super Bowl XLIII early next year, increasing itsinventory by at least 10%, based on data from Smith TravelResearch.

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Scholes also notes that Tampa doesn't attract as large a volumeof international visitors as other major Florida markets such asMiami and Orlando. Interestingly, RevPAR in the much-larger Orlandohotel market declined only 0.3% over the past year, while that forthe Miami-Hialeah market actually increased 6.3%, according toSmith Travel Research. Among other Southeast hotel markets trackedin J.P. Morgan's report, year-over-year RevPAR declined 3.4% inAtlanta and 7.6% in New Orleans, yet increased 1.5% in Nashville,TN.

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