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ORLANDO-Airline passenger counts at Orlando International Airport fell 9.5% in May but hotel occupancy levels at 65.7% for the week ended June 15 is ahead of most major destination areas, Smith Travel Research reports.

Orlando’s occupancy level was down by 2.8% versus a year ago. New York, with a positive 4.9% increase and an 83% occupancy, was the only gainer for the monitored week. Chicago, with a 73.2 occupancy, was down only 1.7% from June 15, 2001, the Hendersonville, TN-based researcher shows.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg market, 80 miles west of Downtown Orlando, was 10.1% off from a year ago with a 58.5% occupancy.

In South Florida, Fort Lauderdale’s occupancy of 56.4% was 14% down from the previous year, the biggest loser in the country for the week ended June 15, the last period audited by Smith. The Miami-Hialeah market, at 53.6%, showed an occupancy decrease of 5.5%.

In north Florida, Jacksonville’s 61.8% occupancy was down 4.3%.

Outside Florida, Charlotte, at 51.3%, was off 7.6%; Boston, 72%, was down 6.7%; Atlanta, at 61.7%, down 4.5%; Los Angeles, 70.4%, down 5.6%. Washington, DC logged the second-best performance behind New York with occupancy of 78.5%, down 3.7% from a year ago.

On the spending front, the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau says international guests are spending about $760 each on a 10-day visit while non-Florida leisure travelers are spending $922 apiece on average six-day stays. Florida residents are staying an average three nights and spending $216 each.

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