Hotel-industry trend-watcher Smith Travel Research reports that national Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) continued to sputter. For the week ending July 20, RevPAR was down to $59.99-off 5.3 percent as compared with RevPAR figures for the same period last year.

STR also released its final year-to-date numbers for June, which revealed some optimistic numbers for the year overall. During the first five months of 2002, STR reports that industry revenue was down 7.4 percent-but that June saw a significant slowdown in that fall, to 5 percent. U.S. Realty Consultants, a Columbus, Ohio-based firm, attributes this bit of good news to the fact that hotels are "buying vacationers" with deep summer discounts, adding that the "true key to recovery [in the hotel industry] lies with the return of the business traveler."

Another piece of optimistic news on the hotel front: PriceWaterhouseCoopers reports that despite the RevPAR decline, hotel loan delinquency rates are somewhat stable. PriceWaterhouse reports that this year's delinquency rate peaks at 5.5 percent, well below that of the 16 percent rate registered in the early 1990s-an era that is frequently compared to the current one in terms of tough times in hotel-industry history.