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Hotel business still way down in major U.S. cities

21 of top 25 hotel markets in depression or recession, reports the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
Marriott Marquis in New York City
Photo courtesy of New York Marriott Marquis Facebook

Crowded airports and highways prove that Americans are traveling again, but the hotel industry continues to struggle.

A new report from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) shows that 21 out of 25 of the top U.S. hotel markets remain in a depression or recession. Hardest hit are urban hotels that rely on business travelers and group meetings—overall, they are down 52% in room revenue compared to May 2019.

San Francisco is seeing the biggest decline, dropping 70% in revenue. Boston (-67%), Washington, D.C. (-65%) and New York City (-62%) follow, all of which are classified as being in a depression, as are Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolis.

New York City has seen one-third of its hotel rooms wiped out by the pandemic and nearly 200 hotels have closed, according to the report.

Although leisure travel is speeding recovery at resorts and hotels in smaller metro areas, the AHLA predicts that business and group travel won’t bounce back to 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024—a distressing forecast for major cities.

The hotel industry continues to lobby Congress for direct economic aid. “While many other hard-hit industries have received targeted federal relief, the hotel industry has not,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA said in a statement. “We need Congress to pass the bipartisan Save Hotel Jobs Act so hotels in the hardest hit regions, especially urban markets, can retain and rehire employees until travel demand, especially business travel, comes back to pre-pandemic levels.”

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