Leisure travel may be rebounding but the hotel industry has not yet recovered, according to a new American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) report. 

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The heavily battered industry has improved since January due to an increasing number of Americans getting vaccinated and gaining confidence in leisure travel once again. However, it is still far below pre-pandemic levels due to a lack of business travelers, which is “the industry’s largest source of revenue,” according to AHLA. 

For instance, the industry trade group projected that business travel won’t even return to pre-pandemic or 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024 at the earliest. 

An unoccupied hotel room.  (iStock)

“Major events, conventions and business meetings have also already been canceled or postponed until at least 2022,” AHLA said. 

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As a result, its road to recovery will be “long and uneven with urban markets disproportionately impacted,” according to the industry trade group’s latest report. 

AHLA projected that nearly 500,000 direct hotel operations jobs lost during the pandemic won’t return by year’s end.  

Additionally, AHLA expects room revenue will be down $44 billion this year compared to 2019. As a result, states and localities are projected to face a more than $20 billion loss in unrealized tax revenues from hotels over the past two years, AHLA said. 

The findings, according to AHLA CEO Chip Rogers, underscores the “economic devastation still facing hotel markets.” 

HOTEL INDUSTRY STRUGGLING WITH ‘LABOR CRISIS’

Rogers also implored Congress to offer targeted relief for hotel workers and small businesses. 

“Hotels and their employees have displayed extraordinary resilience in the face of unprecedented economic challenges, but whether it’s the Save Hotel Jobs Act, fair per diem rates, or expanding the aperture on the Employee Retention Tax Credit, we need Congress’ help on the way to a full recovery,” Rogers added.  

Despite being devastated by virus-related restrictions and lockdown measures, AHLA says the “hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct COVID-related aid.”