Hotel industry group warns of layoffs, closures without another stimulus bill

Local News

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – A national hotel industry group warns of more job losses and closures if congress doesn’t approve another stimulus bill. 

The American Hotel and Lodging Association says federal aid is needed to keep thousands of hotels open and workers on the job.

Demand for rooms like this one at the Hampton Inn Downtown Owensboro/Waterfront are up today compared with late spring and early summer.

“Since July, August and September, business continues to increase. We are starting to see the corporate travelers come back out,” said General Manager Sharon NeSmith. But she warns that reservations are still lower than what they were last year. Visit Owensboro officials say occupancy rates city wide were at 42% as of end of last month, about 16% lower than this time last year.

“We would have different organizations that would bring in two or three nights, they would take 100 room nights for example, we did not have that business at all. All of those folks have actually rescheduled,” NeSmith described.

“At the beginning of this pandemic, we really saw a lot of people being furloughed temporarily or laid off, but as we got into summer, business started picking up,” adds Dave Kirk of Visit Owensboro.

The AHLA warns if congress doesn’t approve another stimulus bill, up to three-quarters of hotels nationwide could be forced to lay off workers. They estimate another 11,700 lost jobs at Kentucky hotels, about 17,500 in Indiana and 41,500 in Illinois. They add that without Congressional aid, there would be 547 hotel closures across Kentucky, nearly 700 closures across Indiana, and more than a thousand across Illinois.

One way hotels are trying to get guests back is attracting more visitors from nearby cities.

“They’ll get in a car and drive and stay with us 2-3 days, and that’s given us a lot of new people that have not been aware of us,” says NeSmith.

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(This story was originally published on October 5, 2020) 

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