North Carolina Hotels Projected to End 2021 Down $1.3 Billion in Business Travel Revenue

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The hotel industry in North Carolina is projected to end 2021 down by 61%, or $1.3 billion, in business travel revenue compared to 2019, according to a new report released today by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Kalibri Labs.

Business travel is the hotel industry’s largest source of revenue and has been slow to return since the onset of the pandemic. Business travel includes corporate, group, government, and other commercial categories. Business travel revenue is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024. Based on market-level data, Charlotte is expected to be down 73% in revenue and Raleigh is expected to be down 75% compared to 2019 total revenue.

The new analysis comes on the heels of a recent national survey by AHLA, which found that most business travelers are canceling, reducing, and postponing trips amid rising COVID-19 cases. The lack of business travel and events has major repercussions for employment and underscores the need for targeted federal relief, such as the Save Hotel Jobs Act. At the state level, this emphasizes NCRLA’s proposal for the NC General Assembly to include $500 million in grants for hospitality businesses that experienced a 20% or more decline in taxable sales revenue during the pandemic.

Hotels are expected to end 2021 down nearly 500,000 jobs nationally compared to 2019. For every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels support an additional 26 jobs in the community, from restaurants and retail to hotel supply companies—meaning an additional nearly 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are also at risk.

“These numbers show that the North Carolina hospitality industry continues to be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lynn Minges, President and CEO of the NC Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Despite the ongoing challenges, NCRLA is working with our state and federal partners to help businesses, employees and communities survive this pandemic.”

“While some industries have started rebounding from the pandemic, this report is a sobering reminder that hotels and hotel employees are still struggling,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “Business travel is critical to our industry’s viability, especially in the fall and winter months when leisure travel normally begins to decline. Continued COVID-19 concerns among travelers will only exacerbate these challenges. That’s why it’s time for Congress to pass the bipartisan Save Hotel Jobs Act to help hotel employees and small business owners survive this crisis.”

COVID-19 is the worst economic event in the history of the U.S. hotel industry. Despite being among the hardest hit, hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct aid. Hotels and their employees have displayed extraordinary resilience in the face of unprecedented economic challenges, and the industry needs support from Congress to achieve a full recovery.

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