Hotel industry feeling the blow of new COVID surge

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As we close in on nearly 18-months of the Coronavirus pandemic, the hotel industry has been dealt another blow.

A new analysis lead by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) found that most business travelers are canceling, reducing or postponing their trips amid this most recent COVID-19 surge. Many decide to cancel existing trips without rescheduling.

Now, AHLA has come out and said the industry, as a whole, is projected to end 2021 down more than $59 billion in business travel revenue compared to 2019.

“What we’re going to see over the next five to six months are a lot of hotels shutting down. Some will be temporary for late fall and winter. Some will be permanent, and that’s unfortunate,” Chip Rogers said, President and CEO of AHLA.

To put it simply, a decade’s worth of hotel revenue and job growth is poof, gone.

Thankfully, here locally, hotels are not as bad off.

“Nashville has done okay because there’s a lot of people that like to go to Nashville, myself included, for leisure travel, but when you look at the business travel the meetings and conventions that are normally filling up that convention center, they’re just not happening,” Rogers said.

The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp (NCVC) is aware of 239 canceled events and nearly 630,000 canceled room nights related to COVID in 2021.

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Rogers noted that in 2019, there were about a billion dollars of business travel going into the Greater Nashville area. In 2021, that’s been cut to a quarter billion, or a 75 percent drop.

When we look at Tennessee overall, lost revenue in the last two years due to lack of business travel sits at $1.2 billion.

Remember, hundreds of jobs are related to this lost revenue.

Hotels are expected to end 2021 down nearly 500,000 jobs compared to 2019. For every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels support an additional 26 jobs in the community, from restaurants and retail to hotel supply companies—meaning an additional nearly 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are also at risk.

And by the end of the year in Tennessee, AHLA expects there to be a job loss of 5,600 direct hotel jobs across the state.

Thankfully, NCVC believes many of the canceled room nights have been offset by leisure travels or rebooked to a later date, and the downtown convention calendar remains full for this fall with only one major convention cancelling, which was a medical association.

“Business travel is critical to our industry’s viability, especially in the fall and winter months when leisure travel normally begins to decline. Continued COVID-19 concerns among travelers will only exacerbate these challenges. That’s why it’s time for Congress to pass the bipartisan Save Hotel Jobs Act to help hotel employees and small business owners survive this crisis,” Rogers said.

He added hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct aid and they’re asking for help.

“While they’ve had a little bit of assistance, it’s clearly not enough to sustain a family, and it’s not what people want. They want to work, and right now you know with this pandemic, it’s very unstable in our industry and others related to hospitality and tourism. That’s why we’re asking for help from the federal government for assistance to go directly to employees. What we’re asking for doesn’t go to the hotel it goes to the employees, and we think that’s appropriate.”

He continued, “If you have any fear of the pandemic and of course the virus that’s understandable but that fear should not be attached to a hotel. Staying in a hotel is safe.”

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