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Long Island hotel occupancy up 3.4%

The beach stretches from Gurney's Inn in Montauk.

The beach stretches from Gurney's Inn in Montauk. (Sept. 5, 2010) Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

More people are staying in Long Island lodgings compared with last year.

The hotel occupancy rate for Long Island jumped 3.4 percent last month over May 2010, to 68.2 percent, according to Smith Travel Research. The increase occurred after April’s occupancy percentage also crept up 0.9 points over April 2010, following a steady three-month slide at the beginning of 2011.

Comparatively, occupancy rates for lodgings on Long Island tend to be higher than the national average, which is now 61.5 percent. But occupancy rates in the United States have been steadily rising since early 2010, while the percentage change has been erratic on the Island in the past.

Summer hotel stays are fueled by vacationers — and industry experts say the high gas prices could keep Long Island and New York City travelers in the area when they want to vacation.

“Higher energy costs, higher food costs are going to restrict more distant travel for Long Islanders and residents of the New York metropolitan area,” said Pearl Kamer, chief economist for the Long Island Association. Ttravelers from nearby states, such as Connecticut or New Jersey, she said, will also set their eyes on Long Island as a vacation destination.

“I think people will still want to take some vacation,” Kamer said. “It’s just going to be shorter and less expensive.”

Gurney’s Inn, a resort in Montauk, is largely booked through Labor Day, with a few open nights “here and there,” said Ingrid Lemme, a Furney's spokeswoman. She added that the inn usually does better business than other hotels because of its location, but there is about a 5 percent increase in occupancy compared to last year.

Moke McGowan, president of the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the increase in occupancy rate is also a sign of the economy recovering, particularly from the consumer’s perspective as they plan summer trips. But, travelers “are still holding to the frugality that came about with the recession,” he added.

In May, American Express Spending & Saving Tracker reported that 59 percent of Americans were planning to travel this summer, up from 51 percent last summer. In particular, there was a 5 percent increase in vacationers who preferred weekend trips, the survey found.

Long Island may be able to provide that quick getaway for residents of nearby urban areas and states. “We’re a relatively short-drive destination with a very strong leisure product,” McGowan said.

The average daily cost of a hotel room on Long Island was about $120.93 in May, according to Smith Travel. Room rates on Long Island have been steadily increasing since June 2010, and consistently remain about $10 to $20 more than average daily rates of hotels across America. 

Click here for more Long Island economic indicator charts.

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