The coronavirus pandemic has hit Maryland’s hotel industry extremely hard and the situation will only get worse if the state does not step in to help, according to the President and CEO of the Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association.
“You’re going to see hotels going into bankruptcy. And permanent closures. And you’re going to see a lot more layoffs,” Amy Rohrer told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview.
Rohrer said Maryland’s hotels are in the same boat as hotels throughout the nation.
“I think that we in Maryland reflect what you are seeing nationwide. We are six months into the pandemic and we are still struggling to keep our doors open. We have not been able to rehire all of our staff due to the historic drop in demand.”
Rohrer pointed to data from a recent survey by the American Hotel and Lodging Association that paints a bleak picture of the fate of the nation’s hotels should they fail to receive prompt government assistance.
“At this point in time, 68% have less than half of their typical pre-crisis staff working full-time. And absent further relief more than two-thirds of hotels report that they won’t last more than six months at current projected revenue and occupancy levels. That’s a scary statistic to me.”
And without government assistance, 74% of hotels would be forced to layoff more workers, Rohrer said.
As for Maryland, Rohrer said that an independently-owned hotel that was located in Prince George’s County has closed permanently due to the pandemic. Rohrer said some hotels have closed temporarily, such as the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor and the Hilton in Baltimore City.
“Those hotels closed early on in the pandemic and have not reopened. I anticipate that they will reopen-but not until it makes sense for them to do so-with the restrictions being lifted and demand for large group travel coming back.”
Rohrer hammered her point home.
“Our industry needs targeted relief. We’ve been decimated by COVID. There are other states that have provided grants that are set aside and dedicated to the hotel industry. I would very much like to see something like that considered by the state.”
Howard County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leonardo McClarty, like Rohrer, also said that hotels need support from the state to get through the pandemic.
“If there isn’t public support, our hotels will continue to struggle.”
McClarty said the pandemic has presented similar dilemmas for both hotels and airlines.
“Businesses and organizations are not holding events like they were pre-COVID. Even with the governor’s move to Phase 3 and restaurants opening further, many people are still hesitant to meet in large groups…Many larger companies are restricting business travel unless absolutely necessary. This is a way of cutting dollars and keeping employees safe. The travel that was taking place was consumer-oriented but with school back in session, many families are not traveling.”
There are 124,311 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,802 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 2.59%, which is better than that of most states in the country.