Hotels across region, country feeling impact of pandemic

Coronavirus Watch

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – The pandemic has hit industries ranging from restaurants to manufacturing. The nation’s hotels are also taking a major hit. A national lodging group says the hotel industry is “on the brink of collapse”.

“You could probably go to a bunch of the hotels in the local areas and see the parking lot will speak louder than words,” said Nita Patel, the owner and operator of the Super 8 in Owensboro, just off of Frederica Street. After the pandemic started, so did reservation cancellations.

“For example, in April, we had $86,000 in reservations. As the pandemic was announced in March, literally, you could see calls coming and cancelling all those reservations and it trickled down to about 5 maybe 6% in the month of April,” she said.

“The virus has definitely been devastating to our tourism industry. It’s not just the hotels that have been negatively affected. We’ve had restaurants close,” adds Mark Calitri of Visit Owensboro.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association says 2020 is expected to be the worst year on record for hotel occupancy, and experts believe occupancy won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022. An Oxford Economics study showed nearly 4 million hotel and hospitality workers were either furloughed or laid off, and the industry could lose of up to half of its revenue for 2020.

Calitri says occupancies city wide are down 50% and room rates are down 26%.

“So, you combine those two together, and that’s created the substantial never before seen drop,” he said.

In a letter to congressional leaders, the AHLA is asking congress to help hotels by extending paycheck protection programs, protect workers and guests through tax credits for PPE, and start a new travel tax credit to get Americans travel again when it’s safe. Patel hopes things improve in the fall and winter, but will control costs to keep the rooms open.

“You just do whatever it takes to keep yourselves open at this point,” she said.

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(This story was originally published on May 26, 2020)

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