80% of Raleigh-area hospitality workers on furlough or laid off


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau told CBS 17 the hospitality business will likely be the last industry to recover after COVID-19.

The department’s website, Visit Raleigh, listed 27 hotels temporarily and voluntarily shut down.

“It’s going to be a slow recovery. I think consumer confidence is going to be critical,” said Dennis Edwards, president and CEO of the GRCVB.

Hotels are impacted in a number ways.

The general manager at the newly build Hampton Inn and Suites Raleigh Midtown told the hotel plans to open July 1 with rooms available to book starting August 15. He said the opening date was slightly delayed because of hurdles getting furniture shipped from abroad. That furniture is now stuck in American warehouses forced to shut down because of COVID-19.

Challenges far exceed furniture issues. Temporary closures at other hotels left staff out of a job. Edwards said about 80-percent of hospitality field workers are either furloughed or laid off altogether.

“The hospitality sector was really the first to feel the impact. We’ll probably have the most significant impact as far as employment,” Edwards said.

Edwards told CBS 17 that hotels rely on business travel. Watch what he had to say about those guests below:

Changes ahead for hotels

You can expect changes during your next stay. Hilton is introduced its Clean Stay program. It includes changes like contactless check-in, door seals so guests know when rooms are sanitized, removing paper items, and an overall increase in cleaning. Click here to learn more about that program.

Edwards said there will be changes to the amenities travelers are accustomed to.

“In the short term- buffets are going to be gone. It will be eliminating any kind of customer interaction with utensils and really social distancing,” Edwards said.

Wake County Hotel Numbers

According to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, these are the latest figures for occupancy rates and hotel tax collections in Wake County.

Month of April

  • Occupancy rate: 27.5%
  • Down 64.2% from 2019
  • $65.9 average daily rate down 40.2%

May 17 – 23

  • Occupancy rate: 34.3%
  • Down 55.4% from 2019
  • $69.40 average daily rate down 37.1%

Occupancy Tax Collections:

Year/Month                    2019 March                        2020 March                     % Change

  • Monthly                          $2,750,193                          $979,235                           -64.4%
  • Calendar Year                $7,028,170                          $5,221,199                        -25.7%
  • Fiscal Year                      $21,318,842                        $20,801,577                      -2.4%

Looking to lawmakers for help

Earlier this month, the American Hotel and Lodging Association published what they called a Roadmap to Recovery. They are calling on Congress to help the hospitality sector make it out alive after the pandemic. They want lawmakers to work on programs to help keep people employed, protect guests and ultimately incentivize travelers to travel again.

Click here to read the letter AHLA sent to Congress.

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