ORLANDO-Central Florida’s seven hotel submarkets, comprising 100,000 rooms, were 68.6% occupied in August, down 2.5% from 71.1% in the comparable 1999 period, according to Tennessee-based Smith Travel Research. Average nightly room rates also slipped 2.1% to $73.54 from $75.10.

Tourists continue to fill rooms, however, at Walt Disney World inns and lodges in the retail-intense International Drive corridor of south Orlando.

Lake Buena Vista, FL hotels, largely dominated by Disney’s 12 inns, was 70.7% full versus 70.2% occupancy last year at this time. International Drive hotels showed a 70.3% occupancy, second best after Lake Burena Vista, but still down from the 77.2% mark in August 1999.

While occupancy was up in the Disney area, room rates were down. The average nightly rate was $95.77 compared to $104.08 last year, an 8% decline. International Drive hotel rates, however, were up to an average $72.97 versus $69.93 a year ago, a 4.3% increase.

Central Orlando average hotel room rates jumped the highest of all the submarkets. The $62.34 rate was up 17.2% over $53.19 a year ago.

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