The Tribune (SLO) - - The Cambrian - BY JOHN LINDT John Lindt is the ed­i­tor of sier­ra2the­

Win­ter storms, high­way clo­sures con­spired to keep tourists away from Cen­tral Coast.

Stormy weather and re­peated clo­sures to High­way 1 in Big Sur took a toll on Cen­tral Coast tourism this win­ter.

In Fe­bru­ary, typ­i­cally the slow­est month of the year, hotel oc­cu­pancy across San Luis Obispo County dropped year over year, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures avail­able.

The month was marked by mul­ti­ple well-pub­li­cized at­mo­spheric river events full of sub­trop­i­cal mois­ture from the wa­ters south of Hawaii. In some cases, the bull’s eye for the storms ap­peared to be the Cen­tral Coast around Big Sur, where storm to­tals reached as high as 6 inches.

As a re­sult, High­way 1 through Big Sur suf­fered fre­quent clo­sures as Cal­trans reg­u­larly shut the road at Mud Creek and Paul’s Slide as a safety pre­cau­tion.

SLO County cities like Morro Bay felt the im­pact. It saw its hotel oc­cu­pancy fall to 47% com­pared to 55% in Fe­bru­ary 2018. Rev­enue per avail­able room, the hotel in­dus­try’s mea­sure of prof­itabil­ity, dropped to $48 com­pared to $58 for Fe­bru­ary 2018, ac­cord­ing to the Morro Bay Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict.

Morro Bay it­self had 12 days of rain in Fe­bru­ary vs. one the previous year, a drought year, ac­cord­ing to the city tourism group. Of course, tourism is flour­ish­ing now that the rains are gone and wild­flow­ers are ev­ery­where.

Morro Bay was not alone in ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the tourism dol­drums, which hit ev­ery other SLO County city.

Cam­bria’s Fe­bru­ary oc­cu­pancy rate was 56% vs. 59% the year be­fore. San Luis Obispo was 66% vs. 69%, Pismo Beach was 60% vs. 67%, and Paso Rob­les was 62% vs. 65%.

Coun­ty­wide, the rate fell to 59%, from 64% in Fe­bru­ary 2018.

Wet weather likely kept travelers at home across California, but not to the same ex­tent.

Statewide hotel oc­cu­pancy av­er­aged 73.9 per­cent in Fe­bru­ary 2019, a 0.1 per­cent de­crease year over year, ac­cord­ing to STR, a Ten­nessee com­pany that tracks hotel mar­ket data.

Rain did not hurt every­one, how­ever. San Fran­cisco hotel oc­cu­pancy was up in Fe­bru­ary de­spite all those storms.

A High­way 1 sign marks the scenic road­way near Har­mony, part of the 35-mile San Luis Obispo County stretch that is slated to even­tu­ally be part of 1,200 miles of bike and pedes­trian paths from Ore­gon to Mex­ico.

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