Top Hotel CEOs Request Urgent Assistance From White House

CEOs of some of the world’s top hotel companies met with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and White House officials on Tuesday to discuss the deteriorating state of the industry amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and to seek immediate assistance.

Executives representing well-known businesses like Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, MGM and more were on hand to stress the severity of the COVID-19 impact and outline a plan for assistance.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) estimates that four million total jobs have been lost already or are on the verge of being eliminated in the coming weeks as hotel occupancy rates plummet, even falling below 20 percent in some heavily impacted markets such as Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and Boston.

“The impact to our industry is already more severe than anything we’ve seen before, including September 11th and the great recession of 2008 combined,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA President and CEO, in a statement. “The White House and Congress can take urgent action to protect countless jobs, provide relief to our dedicated and hardworking employees, and ensure that our small business operators and franchise owners—who represent more than half of hotels in the country—can keep their doors open.”

For now, hotel industry leaders have set their sights on a pair of important goals, including retaining and rehiring employees and keeping hotels open through access to liquidity and low-interest loans, AHLA said.

“This unprecedented public health crisis has quickly become a catastrophic economic crisis as well,” added U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow in a statement of his own. “The losses for the travel industry alone are projected to double the unemployment rate over the next two months and plunge the country into recession. Small businesses, which make up 83 percent of travel businesses, need relief right now if they’re going to be able to keep paying their employees.”

Jon Bortz, Board Chair, AHLA and Chairman & CEO, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, said that his company has been forced to lay off thousands of workers already.

“Pebblebrook Hotel Trust is a REIT with 54 hotels with over 13,000 rooms and over 8,000 employees around the country. Our hotels are in most of the hardest-hit cities—Seattle, San Francisco, here in Washington, D.C., NYC, Boston, Chicago and more. As of today, we have had to make the difficult decision to let go of over 4,000 employees,” said Bortz. “By the end of the month, we expect another 2,000 employees will also be let go, representing over three-quarters of our employees. We are looking at closing the doors at more than half of our properties. This is the reality we and countless other owners and operators around the country are facing in the wake of this public health situation.”

According to an Oxford Economic Study, the hotel industry supports 8.3 million jobs and contributes nearly $660 billion to the U.S. GDP annually.

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