Even if Americans are planning to hit the road for the Labor Day weekend, far fewer of them are planning to stay at a hotel than they were a year ago.
According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, hotel bookings for next week are down 65% from what they were in 2019.
As of Aug. 21, only 14% of hotel rooms were booked for the Labor Day holiday itself, compared to 41% last year, according to Amadeus Demand, which makes software for hotel reservation sales and tracking.
AHLA also found that only 16% of those polled planned a trip around the holiday. Looking ahead, the numbers for Thanksgiving (25%) and Christmas (29%) aren’t too encouraging, either.
The coronavirus pandemic has battered the hotel industry, according to the industry group’s report on its impact. Four in 10 hotel employees are out of work, and nearly two-thirds of hotels are at or below 50% capacity, the break-even point for most of them.
A prolonged downturn could result in the permanent closure of thousands of hotels, said Chip Rogers, the group’s president and CEO.
“While hotels have seen an uptick in demand during the summer compared to where we were in April, occupancy rates are nowhere near where they were a year ago,” Rogers said in a statement. “Thousands of hotels can’t afford to pay their mortgages and are facing the possibility of foreclosure and closing their doors permanently.”
Hotels and airlines are urging Congress to extend the Paycheck Protection Act, which would backstop employee salaries.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association found that only a third of Americans have taken leisure trips this year and 65% of hotels are below 50% occupancy, which is the break-even point for most establishments.
Usually, 70% of Americans take a vacation in any given year, according to the hotel group’s report. But this year, only a third of Americans have traveled for leisure since March, and only 38% plan to do so before the end of the year.
Fewer Americans are planning to travel for upcoming holidays. Only 16% of Americans plan to travel for Labor Day, 25% for Thanksgiving, and 29% for Christmas, according to a Morning Consult survey commissioned by the hotel group.
Further, vacationers are opting for destinations closer to home, and outdoor spaces such as beaches and parks.
Though nationally, hotel occupancy is about 50%, hotels in urban centers and near airports are at 38% and 45%, respectively. Those properties rely on business travel, groups and meetings, none of which are expected to rebound until next year, the report says.
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The markets with the lowest hotel occupancy are Oahu, Hawaii, at 20%, and Orlando, Florida, at 29%. Last year, those locations saw occupancy rates of 89% and 75%, respectively.
Other markets with hotel occupancy rates well below 50% include Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Anaheim/Santa Ana, California.
Nationwide, hotel occupancy hit a low of 24.5% in April. In August, it had recovered to 48.8%.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Labor Day weekend hotel bookings down 65% from 2019 due to COVID-19