Hotel chamber says 2012 occupancy was 54 percent

A new survey by the hotel chamber shows an industry that is just hanging on.The Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles got responses from 90 of its members, and the results show an occupancy rate for 2012 of just 54.1 percent.

That is slightly lower than the rate for 2011, which was 55 percent.

Hotels in Guanacaste showed an occupancy rate of 59 percent, but those in the south Pacific said their rate was 50 percent. Hotel operators usually strive for a rate in excess of 70 percent to make a profit.

Five-star hotels with a rate of 57.1 percent showed they had better business than the cheaper two-star operations, which had 44.7 percent. The survey has to be taken as a general guide because there is no certainty that the same hotels responded each year, and hotels that went out of business due to low occupancy were not represented in the survey.

Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the start of the Christian period of Lent, which ends in Semana Santa or Holy Week. That is a traditional vacation period in Costa Rica, and hotel operators are gearing up for much higher occupancies during the last week in March. Still, occupancies were down even during the Christmas period this year. In past years, many hotels have no vacancies over Christmas.

The hotel industry employs about 400,000, some 100,000 fewer than several years ago, the chamber said last month.

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