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 with 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 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 to 18 percent,” Murphy said. “Based on the lodging report, that was a little more positive than what we were hearing.”

Dennis Lesko, vice president of marketing at The Broadmoor, said four large groups canceled in the month, but all rescheduled for later in the year.

“I think we’ll still be OK by year’s end,” Lesko said.”

Contact Andrew Wineke: 636-0275 Twitter @awineke

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