AHLA says the hotel industry was one of the first to be impacted by the pandemic after travel ground to a halt in early 2020, and it expects it to be one of the last to recover.
The situation is especially dire on the business-travel side, which is the hotel industry’s largest revenue source. Corporate travel remains practically nonexistent and is not expected to begin returning until the second half of this year, said AHLA. A full recovery to pre-pandemic levels is not expected until 2024.
However, the association pointed to a few optimistic indicators. Leisure bookings provided a small cushion for the industry during the 2020 summer season, and progress on vaccine distribution seems to be prompting consumers to feel safer about traveling. Leisure travel is already showing signs of recovery this year and is expected to be followed by recovery in the small and medium events area, before group and business travel begin to recover.
Although recovery is slow in the travel industry, jobs are beginning to return. Hotel occupancy is projected to average about 52% this year, a marked decrease from pre-pandemic levels of about 66% but up 8.5% from last year as the world slowly emerges from its COVID-19 travel hiatus, AHLA said. Occupancy rates could reach nearly 62% next year.
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