Southern Oregon hotel and innkeepers say they have seen modest improvements in room rates and revenue, but haven't experienced the general jolt felt by northern counterparts this year.

Southern Oregon hotel and innkeepers say they have seen modest improvements in room rates and revenue, but haven't experienced the general jolt felt by northern counterparts this year.

"What we are seeing in urban and Central Oregon is partly the return of business travel from when the bottom fell out," Hill said. "We never attracted a large business travel segment anyway because we don't have a convention center."

While room rates in the seven counties under Travel Southern Oregon's umbrella edged up 2.5 percent to an average of $76.81 during the first seven months of 2012, and revenue per available room climbed 1.6 percent, statewide numbers in both categories were superior.

To date, total revenue for the region is up 1.5 percent based on data compiled by Smith Travel Research of Hendersonville, Tenn. While regional figures have been flat or negative in three of six categories, the statewide room rates grew 4 percent, revenue per available room rose 5.1 percent and total revenue soared 5.7 percent. Actual dollar figures are compiled when the state's 1 percent lodging tax is distributed to regional marketing groups.

"We would love to see the August numbers come in strong," Hill said. "We're not hearing about record-breaking years, but we're hearing August has been a strong month and the weather has been absolutely perfect. We've been lucky in that fires haven't affected travel in our area, which is always a risk in the late summer."

Separately, Travel Southern Oregon — previously known as Southern Oregon Visitors Association — and the Crater Lake National Park Trust have launched a partnership to strengthen efforts to promote and preserve the state's lone national park.

The venture means Carolyn Hill, the regional tourism marketing chief executive officer will become executive director for the trust as well.

"Crater Lake National Park has long been a cornerstone of our marketing efforts," Hill said, calling the partnership a natural fit.

The trust was formed during planning for the park's 100th anniversary in 2002. The trust encourages gifts, grants, and other contributions. It became an independent tax-exempt charitable organization in 2006.

Travel Southern Oregon is a regional marketing association formed in 1984, coordinating tourism promotions in the seven-county area of Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Coos and Curry counties.

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