(The Center Square) – Hotels across Pennsylvania are struggling as the COVID-19 outbreak has caused occupancy rates to plummet in the just last few weeks.
According to Pittsburgh’s WESA-FM, the city’s downtown lodging places typically have a booking rate of about 65 percent in mid-March. This year, they’re about 7 percent filled. In and around Philadelphia, a number of hotels have announced layoffs or furloughs, including the Warwick Rittenhouse Square and Wyndham Garden hotels. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported those two venues account for more than 90 job losses.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s statewide stay-home order issued last week allows hotels and motels to stay open. However, the virus has put a halt on most travel. As a result, thousands of jobs are at risk.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association said the coronavirus pandemic has cost Pennsylvania more than 28,700 jobs in the lodging industry. When you factor in the businesses that support hotels in the state, the number grows to more than 95,500.
“I have experienced firsthand having to immediate lay off multiple employees,” said Kaylee Sweda, a general manager for a Holiday Inn Express in Allentown. “This puts them into a position of wondering how they will pay their bills and also as a business operator wondering how I will pay mine.”
And it’s not just jobs in the state’s cities that are being affected by COVID-19.
The Hartzell House Bed and Breakfast is located in Addison in the southwestern corner of the state, just a few miles both from the Maryland and West Virginia state lines. On its website, the B&B said, “due to overwhelming concern for the safety of our guests, neighbors, families and staff,” it’s not taking reservations this month.
“I have experienced firsthand a landslide of cancellations resulting in refunds that may very well impair my ability to pay bills and remain viable in the coming months,” co-owner Kathryn Stemac said. “I have had to lay off my part-time staff, which affects not only their lives but the community as a whole.”
What’s happening in Pennsylvania is happening elsewhere in the country as well, according to the AHLA. Hotels across the country are on track to lose $500 million in room revenue each day. As a result, up to 3.4 million jobs are at risk. That’s nearly four times the number of lodging jobs that were lost as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and ongoing recession and the Great Recession combined.
published here with permission of The Center Square