- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Forty percent of employees in the hotel business remain out-of-work as the coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdowns have hammered the hospitality industry nationwide, according to a new report from the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Approximately half of every ten hotel rooms are occupied and the hotel industry anticipates a dramatic drop-off in holiday travel that could decimate their business. AHLA has seen an uptick in demand since coronavirus-related shutdowns started this spring, but the group anticipates just 25% of all Americans will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday and 29% traveling for the Christmas holiday season later this year.

“Our industry is in crisis. Thousands of hotels are in jeopardy of closing forever and that will have a ripple effect throughout our communities for years to come,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA CEO, in a statement. “We need help urgently to keep hotels open so that our industry and our employees can survive and recover from this public health crisis.”

AHLA is advocating for Congress to expand coronavirus relief spending for the hospitality industry by extending the Paycheck Protection Program, increasing hotels’ access to the Main Street Lending Facility, and creating a commercial mortgage-backed securities market relief fund.

The nightmare that hotel workers are experiencing has affected resorts and business destinations alike. The top five markets most negatively affected by the dramatic decrease in lodgers are Oahu Island, Hawaii; Orlando, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts; Miami, Florida; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Hotel occupancy on Oahu Island dropped 69% year-over-year, from 89% in 2019 to 20% in 2020, for August 9-15.

AHLA counted 8.3 million workers in the hotel industry prior to the pandemic, meaning approximately 1-in-25 working Americans were involved in the hospitality industry. While other sectors of the economy have resumed business, workers’ reluctance to travel and reliance on videoconferencing technology has dealt an unprecedented blow to the hospitality industry.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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