The aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire hit local hotels hard in July, according to figures from the monthly Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.
According to the report, the occupancy rate at local hotels dropped 13.3 percentage points in July, compared to July 2011. That was the biggest year-over-year drop since September 2001, when occupancy rates fell 19.6 percent in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A year ago in July, local hotels were buoyed by the U.S. Women’s Open and saw occupancy rates of nearly 90 percent, the area’s best showing since 1998. Compare that with this year, when fears over smoke and lingering closures because of the devastating wildfire kept leisure travelers away and caused several large groups to cancel or postpone their meetings.
Chelsy Murphy, public relations manager for the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the occupancy number was actually slightly better than the anecdotal reports the bureau received from hotels during the fire.
“For most of the hotels, we were hearing anywhere from 17 to18 percent,” Murphy said. “Based on the lodging report, that was a little more positive than what we were hearing.”
However, the lodging report does not include every hotel and some large properties, such as The Broadmoor and Cheyenne Mountain Resort, aren’t included in the figures.