PLYMOUTH – A country with 30 percent of the hotels it had in 2019?
That’s what The American Hotel & Lodging Association says America will face if more congressional aid is not forthcoming.
According to The American Hotel & Lodging Association, 74 percent of hotels nationwide will be forced to lay off additional employees, and two-thirds of hotels won’t survive another six months without another COVID stimulus bill.
With approximately 40 to 50 percent occupancy compared to where they were last year around this time, hotels are getting hit hard by COVID-19.
The association noted that without more congressional aid 441 of the state’s 900 hotels will experience foreclosures, with an estimated 603 closing altogether.
According to the association, jobs in the hotel industry are down 38 percent.
Looking more closely at pre- and post-COVID-19 numbers, association surveys show that Massachusetts had 40,562 hotel jobs prior to the pandemic, and as of September, lost 15,454 of those jobs. The association reckons that without more congressional aid approximately 28,393 of these jobs will be lost, for a 69 percent loss.
The association also looked at the numbers for the combined direct hotel jobs and hotel support jobs, noting that of the 163,678 total jobs that existed pre-pandemic, 37,810 have been lost, with the potential loss of 73,655 if congressional aid is not forthcoming.
See Plymouth Executive Director Lea Filson stressed that The American Hotel & Lodging Association is literally right on the money.
“That survey is right. This is dire,” Filson said. “What we’re hearing is that Congress may pass one more stimulus bill before they recess for the election. So I am hoping beyond all hope that they do that. I don’t think people understand how badly travel has been hit, and hotels especially.”
Filson said many are anxious as the cold weather sends people indoors, where experts say contracting the virus increases from person to person.
While she and others applaud the governor’s reopening strategy and plan, Filson added a caveat.
“Regardless of the plan, it’s going to take three to five years to be whole again, while people get their confidence back again and want to travel,” she said. “They want to, but they aren’t going to do so until they feel confident enough to do so.”
Filson joined the United States Travel Association and destination management organizations from around the country, participating in exhaustive Zoom sessions with Congressional leaders to talk about the importance of the travel industry and how it needs help. As head of the Plymouth County Regional Tourism Council, Filson said her job is to get the word out that Plymouth is a safe and wonderful destination to visit.
But, reopening strategies won’t turn this tide; it’s the visitor who will. Only when that visitor feels safe enough to venture out will a full-blown recovery take place in the tourist industry.
“Without that confidence, it doesn’t matter what you do,” Filson said. “The longer this goes on, the more traveler concern goes on. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel even though we know there will be one.”
Emily Clark can be reached at [email protected]