ORLANDO-Orange County’s revenue from about 116,000 rooms at hotels, motels and short-term rentals in May, the last audited month, totaled $10 million, “the highest amount ever collected for the month of May,” reports county comptroller Martha O. Haynie.

The May total brings the eight-month cumulative number to $84 million or an average $10.5 million per month. If that collection pace continues, the county will end its 2005 fiscal year Sept. 30 with a final total of $126 million, beating the 2004 record amount of $114.8 million. Haynie and her staff think that could happen. “Cumulative collections for this fiscal year are nearly 12% higher than collections received during the same period last year,” the comptroller notes.

Supporting that optimism are reports from area hoteliers that local businesses and individuals already are booking and paying for rooms in advance of a major hurricane this summer or fall. “That has rarely happened before in such volume,” a local hospitality industry consultant tells GlobeSt.com.

Hoteliers polled by GlobeSt.com declined to disclose current occupancy figures but Smith Travel Research of Hendersonville, TN notes room rates are generally rising across the board in Central Florida’s tourist corridors. For the first five months of this year, for example, south Orlando hotel rates average $105.07 per night, up 12.6%. Along International Drive, inns were charging an average $107.40 per night, up 8.9%. And in the Lake Buena Vista area where Walt Disney World is located, average nightly hotel rates are $117.29, up 0.7%. Rates nationally average $90.52, up 4.8% from last year.

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