by Michael C. Lowe | June 30, 2010

According to the Orlando Sentinel, despite the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, hotels in Florida's Panhandle are at higher occupancy than last year. Through the first three weeks of June, Panhandle hotels filled nearly 70 percent of their rooms, a 5.4 percent increase from the same period in 2009, while the average room rate was down only 4.4 percent from last year. The paper added that numbers might be skewed by last year's "miserable" season and the fact that some rooms were occupied by emergency responders, news media and government workers, who weren't likely paying for spa treatments and poolside drinks. In addition, some hotels were in the red due to heavily discounted extended-stay rates and others just weren't as lucky with room occupancies. "Last Saturday was the first Saturday in six years that I've not been full in June," Joe Farley, general manager of the 239-room Holiday Inn at Destin told the newspaper.