TOURISM : Occupancy, Room Rate Gains Being Forecast for Hotels in County

Compiled by Chris Woodyard, Times staff writer

A new forecast predicts that demand for Orange County hotel rooms will build steadily.

Kenneth Leventhal & Co., a consulting group in Newport Beach, predicts that the average number of hotel rooms filled in Orange County will increase from 65% this year to 70% in 1997. Average daily room rates will increase by $1 to $2 yearly through 1997, the forecast says.

Room rates and occupancy levels will increase because the economy is improving and, at the same time, no major hotels are being built.

The county's December bankruptcy notwithstanding, the local hotel market will benefit from "the overall economic recovery of California and the growing economy in the eastern United States, which has historically provided a significant demand for Orange County hotel rooms," said Gary Wiscombe, a Leventhal partner and lodging expert.

The company's predictions are contained in a statewide report predicting that hotels across California will see better business this year.

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