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SAN DIEGO-The Port of San Diego will defer rents on waterfront hotels, restaurants and other tourist-oriented businesses to help them cope with the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The San Diego Unified Port District on Tuesday approved several options allowing tourism-related business to put off rent for up to six months.

Sales declines are anywhere between 18% and 25% over the same time period last year, restaurateurs told the Port Commission. Port staff says occupancy rates in the hotels around the bay ranged from 70% to 90% before the attacks. They have dropped to as low at 30% since. A recent survey showed that waterfront hotels remain below their normal occupancy levels.

The San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau has predicted that the tourism business in general will be off by 20% for the next several months. The Port District approved the rent deferrals unanimously after hearing the testimony.

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