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ATLANTA-This metro area ranks with New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Riverside, CA as the hottest lodging markets of 2001, based on revenue per available room, according to the newest Commercial Real Estate Quarterly, researched by the National Association of Realtors in Washington, D.C.

Surprisingly absent from the Top Five list are Orlando and Las Vegas which have the most rooms in the nation at a combined total of 250,000 units.

Without noting the numbers, Dr. David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, concedes hotel occupancy and room rates should slow through the third quarter before stabilizing in the fourth period.

“NAR expects continued weakness in the lodging market, but a general economic recovery in the second half of the year should help to bolster the sector,” Lereah says in a prepared statement. Revenue per available room is expected to grow at a marginally slower pace than the rate of inflation through the remainder of the year.

The report attributes the lodging industry slowdown to reduced business travel in the 54 markets tracked. Demand increased 2.6% during the first quarter, about half of the 5% pace in the fourth quarter. The room occupancy rate slipped to 59.1% in the first quarter from 59.3% a year ago.

“At the same time, average daily room rates rose 3.7%; and revenue per available room grew by 3.4% in the first period,” Lereah says. Construction stood at 10.6 million sf, unchanged from the fourth quarter.

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