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BOSTON-The hotel occupancy rate here is down 3.9% for the first four months of the year compared to the same period last year, according to the Pinnacle Advisory Group. While the decrease is not as significant as in other cities, it is the first time in nearly a decade that hotels here are experiencing a decrease in occupancy.

“Boston had a continuously stable market,” Art Canter, executive director of the Massachusetts Lodging Association, tells GlobeSt.com. “Occupancy rates here have been going up since 1992.”

Canter is quick to add that other cities have far steeper cuts in occupancy rates go even deeper. New York City, for instance, has experienced a 9% decrease in hotel occupancy rates over the same period as compared with last year.

“We’re dealing with an economic blip,” notes Canter. “Hopefully, it won’t be long term but we’re not expecting a great year.” Canter attributes the majority of the decrease to the drop in corporate travel due to the economic downturn. Leisure is down as well, he points out, but in this case most of the drop is due to the decline in corporate occupancy.

While hotel rates here have dropped, hotel occupancy rates in Cambridge have plummeted 11.1% in the same period as compared with last year. That city’s high reliance on the high tech sector is responsible for the large decrease in occupancy rates. “It’s a very significant drop,” says Canter. “That market has been compatible with the Boston market for years.”

Interestingly, while some hotels here have been offering special rates for certain low occupancy periods, price cuts across the board have yet to happen. Canter anticipates that things will get a little worse before they get better. “At least for a few months it will get worse. We’re looking at occupancy rates being down in the winter, the worst part of the year,” he says.

Canter adds that the lack of legislative support for the state tourism industry could further hurt the hotel industry. “We generate millions of dollars in hotel taxes, which is supposed to go to market Massachusetts but the legislators feel local projects are more important than that,” says Canter. “Our concern is our competition. Other states are beefing up their budgets and going after our market. The leisure market is up for grabs and this could have dire effects on our industry.”

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