Major Cities Lost Billions From COVID-19 Lockdowns

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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American cities lost billions of dollars in business travel revenue between 2019 and 2022 due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

The U.S. hotel industry lost more than $20 billion in business travel revenue in 2022, according to analysis by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs. New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and San Jose are expected to remain more than 50% down, while the overall projected revenue loss is anticipated to be 23% nationally, the study found.

Leisure spending is expected to recover to pre-2020 levels faster than corporate, group, government and other commercial categories, which are the hotel industry’s largest source of revenue, the report continued. Business travel is not expected to recover until at least 2024. (RELATED: Mayor Eric Adams Calls New York City ‘Laughingstock’ Amid Crime Surge)

San Francisco lost over $1.6 billion between 2019 and 2022, the report found. New York lost upwards of $2.5 billion in the same time frame, after hosting a record-breaking 66.6 million visitors in 2019, according to the New York Post.

“We estimate that the hotel-related occupancy & sales tax that the City lost in 2020 was approximately $920 million and $560 million in 2021,” president and CEO of the New York City Hotel Association, Vijay Dandapani, told the NY Post. An estimated 20,000 people lost their jobs in NYC’s hotel industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

“The principal reasons are a lack of revival of business travel where the average rate is nearly two times that of a tourist guest with a longer duration of stay,” he continued,” Dandapani said, according to the outlet. “Another reason is the federal government’s continued insistence of a 24-hour COVID test (despite a vaccination requirement) for anyone entering the US, which is a big disincentive for foreign business and tourist travel.”

While the new analysis suggests that recovery won’t happen until 2024, Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget forecast argued that the hotel and hospitality industry would not recover until 2026, according to another NY Post report.