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Jacksonville hotel business travel revenue to be down 50%

Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel in downtown Jacksonville (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., – Jacksonville hotels are projected to lose $151 million in business travel revenue in 2021, down 50.1% compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to a recent report from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Kalibri Labs. Florida hotels stand to lose more than $5.3 billion, while hotels across the nation are projected to end 2021 down more than $59 billion in business travel revenue compared to 2019 after losing nearly $49 billion in 2020.

The new analysis comes on the heels of a recent AHLA survey, which found that most business travelers are canceling, reducing, and postponing trips amid continued COVID-19 concerns.

To extend a lifeline to hotel workers and provide the assistance needed to survive until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels. U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, R-Tallahassee, has co-sponsored the Save Hotel Jobs Act, legislation currently before Congress that would direct 100% of its funding to keep hotel workers on the payroll.

Business travel, which includes corporate, group, government and other commercial categories, is the hotel industry’s largest source of revenue and is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024. The lack of business travel and events has major repercussions for employment and underscores the need for targeted federal relief, such as the Save Hotel Jobs Act.

Hotels are expected to end 2021 down nearly 500,000 jobs compared to 2019, including more than 44,000 lost jobs in Florida. For every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels support an additional 26 jobs in the community from restaurants and retail to hotel supply companies -- meaning an additional nearly 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are also at risk nationwide, according to AHLA.

”We’d like to thank Representative Lawson for supporting our workforce during one of the most difficult years on record,” said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers. “While many other hard-hit industries have received targeted federal relief, the hotel industry has not.”

Despite being among the hardest hit category of businesses, hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct aid. That is why AHLA and UNITE HERE, the largest hospitality workers’ union in North America, joined forces to call on Congress to pass the bipartisan Save Hotel Jobs Act introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Florida).

Key provisions include:

  • Supporting Hotel Workers: Direct payroll grants will be utilized for payroll and benefits expenses for workers. The legislation would also require grantees to give laid-off workers recall rights to ensure those who lost their hotel jobs due to the pandemic can get back to work.
  • Allowing Worker-Friendly Tax Credits: Provides a Personal Protective Equipment Tax Credit to promote worker safety measures, which would allow for a payroll tax credit for 50 percent of costs associated with the purchase of personal protective equipment, a technology designed to reduce the impact of the pandemic, increased testing for employees, and enhanced cleaning protocols that do not negatively impact the level of work for the housekeeping staff.