LEXINGTON, Ky. — Without a second COVID-19 stimulus bill by Congress, another 5,000 Kentucky hotel employees will lose their jobs and two-thirds of the state’s 816 hotels face foreclosure or closure, according to a new American Hotel & Lodging Association survey.

Hank Phillips

“The AHLA data confirms what we have been saying since early in the COVID economic crisis,” said Hank Philips, president/CEO of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association. “Kentucky’s travel and tourism industry has been devastated. Not defeated, but certainly devastated.”

The AHLA survey released last week that underscores the devastating results for the hotel industry.

Nationally, 74% of hotels would be forced to lay off additional employees and 67% would not make it another six months if Congress fails to pass another COVID stimulus bill, hoteliers told the AHLA survey.

“It’s time for Congress to put politics aside and prioritize American workers in the hardest-hit industries,” said Chip Rogers, ALHA president/CEO. “Hotels are cornerstones of the communities they serve, building strong local economies and supporting millions of jobs. Thousands of hotels across America are in jeopardy of closing forever, and that will have a ripple effect throughout our communities for years to come.

“It is imperative that Congress act now before leaving town, or thousands of small businesses and the jobs associated with them will be lost. The American people cannot wait for relief. Congress needs to act now,” Rogers said in a release from AHLA.

A state-by-state breakdown of the impact found by the survey is available here.

Kentucky reports 16,767 total hotel jobs pre-COVID. As of Sept. 20, that number has fallen by 6,388. Without aid from Congress, Kentucky job loss is estimated at 11,737.

When this is expanded to include jobs supported by hotels, pre-COVID number is 90,722, according to AHLA’s member survey. Kentucky jobs lost is estimated at 20,957 as of Sept. 20, increasing to 40,825 jobs gone without a second stimulus.

“Job loss is at the top of the concerns, but what lies immediately beneath that needs to be understood, as well,” Phillips told The Lane Report in response to the survey. “Just as it is difficult for hoteliers to maintain personnel, the same pressures are occurring with their ability to meet mortgage obligations.”

Prior to the pandemic, AHLA said, hotels supported 1 in 25 American jobs—more than 8.3 million in total. The recent member survey was conducted September 14-16, 2020. Phillips pointed to the importance of the broader tourism sector, of which lodging is a part.

“In case anyone is thinking that we are simply a business sector looking for a handout,” Phillips said, “they need to pause and consider what tourism does for this state, and more specifically for the people of Kentucky. During normal times the industry supports nearly 100,000 Kentucky jobs, generates $800 million in state and local tax revenue and overall, has an economic impact of $11.8 billion.

“We can begin to get back to those contributions to Kentucky communities and families, but as the industry hit first, most deeply and with a long recovery in front of us, help is needed,” he said. “The bottom line is that Kentucky’s economy will not fully recover until the tourism industry recovers, and the AHLA numbers are a stark indicator of that.”

Members of the state’s Travel Industry Association are united in urging passage of a second COVID stimulus package in Washington.

“One essential aspect of not being defeated is the need for support from Congress,” Phillips said. “Our industry and others have been extremely frustrated by Congress’ inability to agree on a package that will provide needed relief. And the relief is needed by all categories of the industry, hotels included. Another sector hit very hard that has not been eligible for any previous relief are our local destination marketing organizations.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Hotel & Lodging Association is the sole national association representing all segments of the U.S. lodging industry.