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NEW YORK CITY-Continuing an upward trend in hotel occupancy levels, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP forecasts strong numbers for the next few years. And, according to Bjorn Hanson, global hospitality industry leader, the firm has met its mark since 2002.

At its 2004 US Lodging Industry Briefing held at the Pierre Hotel this morning, Hanson stated that for 2005 PwC predicts occupancy levels will reach 62.9% and that figure will climb to 63.9% in 2006. “We see very strong occupancy performance,” he added.

And if history repeats itself, he may be right. In 2002, PwC forecast occupancy levels would reach 59.6% and the actual figure was 59.2%; in 2003, PwC forecast occupancy levels would reach 59.6% and the actual figure was 59.1%. In addition, on Dec. 11, 2003 the firm forecast 2004 levels would reach 61.2% and as of today the actual number is 61.1%, Hanson explained.

He attributed the near-perfect forecast to the firm’s research department, forecast model and “some luck.” The forecasts do take some key risks and assumptions into consideration, he explained, like the continuing decline of crude oil prices, the continuing rapid rise of productivity growth, the continuing weakening of the dollar and the continuing increase of rates by the Federal Reserve.

Also for 2005, PwC forecasts the average daily rate to rise 4.3% and 4.6% in 2006. In regards to RevPar, the firm forecasts a 7.3% change for 2005 and a 6.3% change in 2006. The 7.3% RevPar growth in 2005 will be the highest since 1984, excluding 2004, Hanson added.

“It’s an optimistic forecast for 2005,” he said. “Inflation is helping us get back to the end of 2000 numbers but if you take inflation out then it will take to the end of 2006 to get back to 1996 real levels.”

As for individual lodging sectors, Hanson adds that all six–in nominal dollars–will make up what was lost from 2000 to 2003.

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