Nearly 2 of 3 hotels have yet to bring back half of workers: trade group survey

'We have never seen a crisis of this magnitude,' American Hotel & Lodging Association says

Hotels are struggling to bring back furloughed or laid off employees as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the travel industry, an industry trade group says.

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When the pandemic gripped the world, nine out of hotels -- or 87 percent -- were forced to lay off or furlough employees, according to a survey of its members by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Months later, 36 percent of hotels remain unable to bring back any of their furloughed or laid-off workers to full time-employment, the survey shows.

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To date, only 37 percent of survey respondents reported that they have been able to bring back at least half their full-time employees.

The results come amid a time when the country has seen a rise in cases especially across the South and West, which could further devastate an industry that has been a reliable gauge of economic health.

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As long as travel remains depressed, the economy could struggle to accelerate. About 10 percent of all jobs flow from the travel sector.

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While about 24 percent of hotels have attained at least 60 percent of their pre-COVID staffing levels, 29 percent are still at or below 20 percent staffing, according to the report. More than half of the over 600 hotel owners that responded admitted they are in danger of losing their property to foreclosure by commercial real estate lenders as a result of the pandemic.

"It's hard to overstate just how devastating the pandemic has been for the hotel industry. We have never seen a crisis of this magnitude," said American Hotel & Lodging Association CEO Chip Rogers.

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Rogers is calling on hoteliers to call on Congress to ensure they are included in the next relief package, saying the most pressing issues facing the industry are access to increased liquidity, tax relief, and limited liability protection.

"Hotels have a presence in every congressional district in America, building strong local economies and supporting millions of jobs," he said. "Every Member of Congress needs to hear from us about the urgent need for additional support so that we can keep our doors open and bring back our employees."

For their results, the association surveyed more than 1,200 hotel industry owners, operators, and employees from July 23-27.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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