Southern Oregon lodging showed improved occupancy rates in May, but the performance of the region's hotels and motels still lagged behind 2011 numbers through the first five months of the year.

Southern Oregon lodging showed improved occupancy rates in May, but the performance of the region's hotels and motels still lagged behind 2011 numbers through the first five months of the year.

"Our numbers are still showing economic realities," said Carolyn Hill, chief executive at Southern Oregon Visitors Association. "But it was a strong May and we're hearing good things from our major attractions and they are showing really strong numbers."

That takes into account Hellgate Jetboat Excursions, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Crater Lake National Park and its lodge.

Revenue per available room — considered the key figure in the industry — rose 4.5 percent to $41.60 during May. However, the region's per-room revenue of $31.60 for the first five months of the year still trails 2011 by half a percent. May's take at the cash till in Southern Oregon increased 4.5 percent to nearly $10.9 million. However, year to date, the $39.9 million figure trailed the 2011 count by 0.6 percent.

Statewide, room revenue was up 6.4 percent in May and entered June 5 percent ahead of 2011. Revenue per available room rose 5.6 percent in May and is up 4.3 percent for the year.

The six-times-a-day trolley ride along Rim Drive has piqued interest from park visitors as well, Hill said. The trolley is operating in its second full tourist season.

"We were excited to see the north park entrance opened," Hill said. "That always makes a difference because it's another point of access for people coming down from Portland and Seattle."

The $4-plus fuel prices may have slowed travel through the region during the spring, but Travel Medford executive vice president Anne Jenkins anticipates May's momentum will carry the season.

"I think everything is holding steady and everyone was pleased we didn't see a huge decrease," Jenkins said. "Then we had considerably more people coming through Medford in May. I don't think gas prices are affecting travel at this point. People have come to expect fluctuations and they've made their travel arrangements. They might cut something out ... but they are still going."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.