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Hilton beats revenue estimates as leisure travel gathers pace

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FILE PHOTO: Hilton hotel logo is seen on 52nd street following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City
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(Reuters) - U.S. hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc beat revenue estimates for the third quarter on Wednesday, as easing pandemic restrictions drive a recovery in leisure travel.

"Leisure travel remained strong and business travel continued to pick up during the quarter," Chief Executive Officer Christopher Nassetta said, adding global tourism is likely to see a strong recovery in months and years ahead.

Hotel operators around the world, including Hilton, are seeing occupancy rates inch towards pre-pandemic levels amid rising vaccination rates.

However, labor shortages in the U.S. and tighter social restrictions in southeast Asia, especially in China, continue to weigh on the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Occupancy in Hilton's Asia Pacific region came in at 49.5% for the third-quarter, down 4.8% from a year ago.

The company reported total expenses in the quarter of $1.31 billion, up 42% versus last year.

But comparable RevPAR OR 'revenue per available room', a key performance measure for the hotel industry, was $90.39 for the quarter, about 98.7% higher than the same period last year.

Revenue in the quarter rose 87.5% to $1.75 billion, beating estimates of $1.65 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

However, excluding items, Hilton earned 78 cents per share, missing analysts' average estimate of 85 cents per share.

The company reported net income attributable to stockholders of $241 million, or 86 cents per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a net loss of $79 million, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier.

(Reporting by Ashwini Raj in Bengaluru; Editing by Arpan Varghese)