Citing more than 17,000 job losses since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Massachusetts hoteliers warned that "the bleeding isn't stopping" and that they need government help to stave off further damage to their businesses.
In Massachusetts alone, where the first COVID-19 case was announced on Feb. 1 and the number of total cases has rapidly increased since then, 17,847 direct hotel-related jobs and 66,799 jobs that support hotels have been cut due to the outbreak, according to the Massachusetts Lodging Association.
The association compiled firsthand accounts from nine hotel owners in the state to submit to Congress urging aid for an industry facing significant strain. Most said they worry about paying bills and have seen business evaporate in recent weeks.
Doug Koenig, a manager at the Hilton Boston Back Bay, said occupancy rates at his hotel have dropped to as low as 5% in remarks circulated by the association. Lexington hotel owner Dominique Marty said she had to cut worker hours by almost 90%. Kristin Scott, a North Chelmsford area sales manager for Remington Hotels, warned that the financial ramifications "will be devastating for many families and individuals."
"We are losing business FAST," Sturbridge hotelier Jaimin Patel wrote in his commentary. "We need (government) relief soon. The bleeding isn't stopping. Please help us, so we can retain our staff. Times are hard."
Hotel CEOs met with Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday to seek federal assistance, after which the American Hotel and Lodging Association estimated 4 million total jobs nationwide have been or are on the verge of being cut, a "catastrophic" toll.
On Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that small restaurant and hospitality businesses in Massachusetts — defined as those that paid less than $150,000 in sales plus meals taxes or sales plus room occupancy taxes in 2019 — would not have to pay March, April and May taxes until June as a short-term relief.