Have you ever wondered how hotels and motels stay busy enough to survive?
The answer is that right now, in the midst of the COVID-19 public health crisis, most are financially hanging by a thread.
People have curtailed travel since the coronavirus hammer fell in March and when places to stay aren’t busy, people employed by them aren’t needed and find themselves seeking jobless benefits. Adding to the dire scenario is a new national survey that found seven out of 10 Americans are unlikely to travel for the holidays.
The poll, commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, shows that 72% of Americans participating in the survey are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69% are unlikely to go anywhere for Christmas, compounding the challenges for the hotel industry.
Business travel has been hit even harder. Only 8% of Americans say they have taken an overnight business trip since March, and just 19% of respondents who are currently employed — or 8% of all adults — expect to travel for business within the next six months.
Only 32% of respondents have taken an overnight vacation or leisure trip since March, and looking ahead to next year, 24% said they are likely to travel for spring break.
The hotel industry was the first seriously hurt by the pandemic. Occupancy rates partially rebounded from record lows in April, but have continued to decline since Labor Day. More than half of hotels report they have less than half of their typical, pre-crisis staff working full time.
Then there is the ripple effect, with state and local tax revenue from hotel operations estimated to drop by $16.8 billion in 2020.
The pandemic is a double-edged sword. Travel can lead to spread of the novel coronavirus, sickening and even killing people, but staying home is pushing hotels, restaurants and other components of the hospitality industry to the brink of insolvency and permanent closure.
“This holiday season will be an especially difficult time for all Americans, and our industry is no exception” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, in a press release. “Fewer people will be traveling, and business travel remains nearly non-existent. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to pass a relief bill now. Millions of Americans are out of work, and thousands of small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open. We cannot afford to wait until the next Congress is sworn in for relief. They need help now.”
People are hurting, and the extreme partisanship, political finger-pointing and gridlock in Washington must end. Lawmakers are in office to serve their constituents and they need to set aside their differences and pass another stimulus bill as soon as possible.