The third quarter brought some good news about the lodging industry as national occupancy climbed to 65.6%. That represents a 2% increase over the third quarter of 2002, according to Smith Travel Research. Meanwhile, average room rates increased 0.4% to $83.44 during the third quarter, and RevPAR (revenue per available room) also grew 2.3% to $54.71.

Industry room supply increased 1.3% between January and September, which is down from 1.6% during the same period in 2002. Also, room revenue increased 0.5% in the first nine months of 2003 to $61 billion.

"Third-quarter industry performance was a welcome step in the right direction," says Mark Lommano, president of Smith Travel. "The industry is well-positioned for continued performance improvement for the balance of 2003 and, we believe, into 2004. If current trends hold, full year 2003 industry occupancy could show positive growth for the first time since 2000."