NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — New data shows Nashville’s hotel industry is recovering better from the pandemic than almost any other city in the country. There are challenges and hurdles, however, that could slow the momentum.

By the end of 2022 in Music City, hotel revenue for leisure travel is expected to be up 30.8% from pre-pandemic, 2019 levels, generating $273,075,854. Hotel revenue for business travel is expected to be up 9.2%, generating $88,374,749.

Nationally, hotel revenue for leisure is expected to be up 14% from pre-pandemic levels. This is all according to a new analysis released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Kalibri Labs.

Among the states leading the surge, Tennessee trails behind Florida.

  1. Tampa, FL  +44%
  2. Ft Lauderdale, FL  +35%
  3. Miami, FL  +33%
  4. Nashville, TN +30.8%
  5. Fort Worth, TX  +29.2%

“Tennessee as a whole has had fewer restrictions during the COVID era, which has led a lot of businesses to looking here and leisure travelers looking here to visit instead,” said Sara Beth Urban, CEO of President Hospitality Tennessee. “We’re seeing those numbers continue across the state as well.”

This is leading to historic job opportunities for hospitality employees with more than 115,000 positions open across the country. But filling these positions is the challenge.

“It’s going to affect the our ability to offer great service to our customers that come in,” said Urban. “Tennessee is working very hard to create new opportunities and try to get the word out that hospitality is a career path.”

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Many hotels are offering incentives to keep up with the demand. An estimated 81% have increased wages, 64% are offering greater flexibility with hours and 35% have expanded benefits, according to a September 2022 AHLA member survey.

“You can get in the door at any level and work your way up with or without a degree,” said Urban. “We hope to continue that trend and help solve some of those issues going forward.”