Local hoteliers expect occupancy rates to shrink in the final quarter of this year, although they remain hopeful that the full-year rate will be close to last year's. The Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners yesterday predicted a year-on-year drop of about 5 percentage points in the last three months of the year - usually the peak season. Federation vice-chairman Clarence Shun Wah said the occupancy rate would be 'very good' if it could surpass 85 per cent this quarter, compared with an average of about 90 per cent during the same period last year. The group said the number of business visitors, especially those from the US and Europe, dropped recently. It believed hotels would have to cut costs while some might delay expansion plans for a year or so. 'We foresee that arrival figures, especially Mice [meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions] travellers, will drop,' federation director Michael Li Hon-sing said, warning that the impact of the financial crisis would emerge gradually. 'People may travel less, and in the worst case they might not come to Hong Kong but would use telephone conferencing,' he said. Mr Li said he hoped the overall occupancy rate this year would be close to 84 per cent to 85 per cent, the same for last year, as visitor arrivals were strong in the first three quarters. He was confident of next year's outlook.