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DENVER-The average occupancy rate of Denver area hotels fell to 62.4% in May from $65.3% in May 2001, shows the latest Rocky Mountain Lodging Report. The report by Robert S. Benton Associates also shows the average room rate in May fell to $85.24 from $88.74.

In April, the average occupancy rate was 63.1%, compared with 61.7% in April 2001. That marked the first time since February 2001 that the current month had bested the previous month.

For hotels outside of the Denver area, occupancy rates were almost flat.

Those hotels, which include rooms in ski resorts and the northwest and southern part of Colorado, averaged occupancy rates of 57.7% in may from 58.8% in May 2001. The year-to-date average was 55.4% compared with 59% in May 2001. The average room rate in May was $86.71, compared with $89.14.

However, Bob Benton fears that if the fires continue to rage in Colorado, tourism visits could hammer some hotel operators, many of whom count on summer vacationers for much of their revenues.

“With the fires in Arizona too, a lot of people may not be vacationing in the Southwest this year,” Benton tells GlobeSt.com.

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