Choice Hotels International has reported a 24 percent increase in first quarter operating income to US$34.1m compared with the same period last year.

Earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation (EBITDA) increased 22 percent to US$36.1m compared to US$29.5m for first quarter 2007.

The number of domestic hotels under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development increased 18 percent to 986 hotels, representing 79,276 rooms, while the worldwide pipeline increased 20 percent to 1,082 hotels, representing 87,597 rooms.

The company expects EBITDA for full-year 2008 to be approximately US$205.5m, assuming revPAR increase two percent over the year.

CEO Charles Ledsinger Jr praised the efforts of recently appointed senior executives for contributing to the firm’s growth.

“During our first quarter, the fundamental strength of our business model was evident as robust unit growth drove increased revenues and profitability,” he says.

“We were also very fortunate to have brought into the organisation three experienced executives in Steve Joyce, President and Chief Operating Officer, Chris Malone, Chief Marketing Officer, and Sandy Michel, General Counsel, all of whom have significant franchising backgrounds.

“Their talents, combined with the strength of our current leadership team, position Choice for continued growth and success.”

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh