By Michael B. Baker

MAY 25, 2010 — PKF Hospitality Research today issued a forecast reversing its earlier prediction of a decline in U.S. revenue per available hotel room this year, although the firm maintained its forecast for continued rate drops.

The firm now expects U.S. RevPAR to increase by 1.7 percent this year, compared with its forecast of a 1.1 percent decline issued in March (BTNonline, March 22). Hotel demand in the first quarter increased 5.3 percent year over year, the largest quarterly increase in more than two decades, according to PKF.

“The magnitude of the turnaround was a very pleasant surprise,” PKF Hospitality Research president Mark Woodworth said in a statement. “Such a large increase in lodging demand suggests a return of pent-up travel that did not occur in 2009 because of budget constraints, plus real hotel demand growth attributable to improvements in the long-term economic outlook.”

PKF said the occupancy recovery would occur across most major markets, not just the major gateway markets. Demand increased in 49 of the 50 top U.S. markets—only Houston had a decline—during the first quarter of 2010. Demand growth will be strongest in the luxury and upscale tiers, according to Woodworth.

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