Charleston County hotels reported a decline in occupancy for January over the same month last year, but a tourism official said the comparison was skewed downward because more rooms were available this year.

For January, generally a slow month in the tourism business, hotels posted a 53 percent occupancy rate or 0.6 decline from January 2012.

“This was simply due to growth in hotel room inventory compared to the prior year,” said Perrin Lawson, deputy director of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The number of room nights sold actually increased by an estimated 1,500.”

Charleston County had 15,174 rooms in January. That was up by 184 rooms over the previous year, according to reports by the Office of Tourism Analysis at the College of Charleston.

Hotel occupancy for January 2012 also received a boost because of the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina.

While occupancy was down, the average daily rate went up 8 percent in January versus a year ago to $112.79 while revenue per available room rose 7 percent to $59.70, according to the Office of Tourism Analysis.

Hotels on peninsular Charleston reported the highest occupancy of 63.6 percent, which was up 1.7 percent year over year.

West Ashley hotels posted an increase in occupancy of 10.6 percent to 51.9 percent, while East Cooper lodgings saw a rise of 0.5 percent to 42.3 percent.

North Charleston, where half the county’s hotels are located, reported a 6.4 percent decline in occupancy to 49.3 percent.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or