Alabama hotels have suffered less than the nationwide average in occupancy rates and room prices so far this year, state tourism director Lee Sentell told 270 officials Sunday at the opening of the annual tourism conference at the Grand Hotel. The percentage of occupied hotel rooms in the U.S. dropped 7.1 percent during the first six months of the year versus Alabama’s decrease of 6.6 percent, he said, quoting Smith Travel Research. Family vacations in June pushed Alabama’s occupancy rate up to 58 percent as compared with the six-month average of 53 percent, he said. The average room rate dropped 8.6 percent nationally compared to a 3 percent drop in Alabama during the same period, Sentell said. Nationally, the average room rate for the first six months of the year was $98.78, compared to Alabama’s average rate of $72.19.