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by Lisa A Grimaldi | August 15, 2012

Hotel rate growth for the first half of 2012 was strongest in the Latin American region, according to the biannual hotel survey from travel management company HRG. Rates across Europe either fell or remained flat, however, as economic uncertainty took its toll. On a global level, rate growth slowed somewhat over the same period last year: 23 of the top 50 international cities posted year-over-year rate increases, compared with 33 a year ago. "The results of the hotel survey present an intriguing picture of travel spend," noted HRG group commercial director Stewart Harvey in a statement. "Macroeconomic weakness and uncertainty are driving room rates down across mainland Europe, but the significant growth in room rates across the Latin American region indicates a shift in business priorities toward high-potential destinations." Mexico City enjoyed the highest year-over-year increase in room rates, at 30 percent in local currency, while other significant increases in Latin America included the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo (23 percent) and Rio de Janeiro (15 percent). In the U.S., top destinations New York City and San Francisco posted rate growth. New York City, with the sixth-highest average room rate in the world, rose 2 percent in local dollars over last year's first-half average, while San Francisco, ranked 12th on the list, experienced 8 percent growth. Tenth-ranked Washington, D.C., posted a 6 percent drop in the average rate compared to last year.