Report: U.S. Hotel Industry Faces Closures, Ongoing Depression in Post Pandemic Era

The Holiday Inn hotel, close to Heathrow Airport, west of London is pictured on March 1, 2
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

A report published by the American Hotel and Lodging Association reveals that despite an uptick in travel in the post coronavirus pandemic era, the hotel industry across the country faces closures and drastic reductions in revenue.

“The road to recovery for the hotel industry is long with 21 of the top 25 U.S. hotel markets remaining in a depression or recession,” a news release announcing the report said. “The new data shows urban hotels are still in a ‘depression’ cycle while the overall U.S. hotel industry remains in a ‘recession.’”

The release shared some of the significant statistics from the report:

Urban markets, which rely heavily on business from events and group meetings, continue to face a severe financial crisis as they have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Urban hotels were down 52% in room revenue in May compared to May 2019. For example, New York City, which remains in a depression, has seen one-third of its hotel rooms (42,030 rooms) wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 200 hotels closing in the city.

The recent uptick in leisure travel for summer is encouraging for the hotel industry, but business and group travel, the industry’s largest source of revenue, will take significantly longer to recover. Business travel is down and not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024. Major events, conventions and business meetings have also already been canceled or postponed until at least 2022.

The report details the U.S. cities hardest hit by pandemic lockdowns, with San Francisco at the top of the list with a 70 percent drop in “revenue per available room.”

The other cities in the depression category are Boston (67 percent); Washington, DC (65 percent); New York City (62 percent); Chicago (59 percent); Seattle (56 percent); and Minneapolis (51 percent).

All of these cities are led by Democrat mayors who imposed harsh lockdown protocols during the pandemic.

“While some industries are starting to rebound as COVID-19 restrictions ease across the country, the U.S. hotel industry is still in a recession, with the hardest hit markets in a depression,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA, said. “While many other hard-hit industries have received targeted federal relief, the hotel industry has not.”

Rogers lobbied for Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act “so hotels in the hardest hit regions, especially urban markets, can retain and rehire employees until travel demand, especially business travel, comes back to pre-pandemic levels.”

Local media outlet KRON reported that in San Francisco in 2019 the average room rate at the Handlery Union Square, Hotel Hillary was $255 a night. Now it is $135 a night and the occupancy rate has dropped 60 percent.

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