Weekly NYC Hotel Demand Hits Highest Point Since Before Pandemic Began

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New York City saw its highest weekly hotel demand last week since the start of the pandemic, with 481,284 room nights sold, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference. 

The nearly half-a-million room nights sold for the week of July 12 represents an increase of 17,000 room nights, or 3.5 percent, since the week prior. 

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“This is incredible progress,” said de Blasio. “We are well on our way to reaching the goals that we had, and then exceeding them, because people are coming back to New York City.”

This month, de Blasio announced a $30 million investment in the city’s tourism campaign, funded by federal dollars, to create a television spot to showcase New York City. The effort will focus on domestic travelers and aims to bring tourists back into the city. 

The city’s hospitality industry dried up during the pandemic as people were stuck inside their homes. As a result, many hotels — especially in Midtown — shuttered, resulting in sweeping job losses and plans to convert some empty hotels into offices or housing.

With tourism representing an $80 billion industry in the city and accounting for 7.2 percent of total private-sector employment, the real estate community and government alike are eager to bring visitors back to town.

But, domestic tourists may want to miss out on certain aspects of the city. New York’s trouble with gun violence drew national attention when Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared it a disaster emergency on July 6. Murders and shootings dropped last month compared to June 2020, but crime in the last six months was still up compared to the first six months of 2020. 

While crime is nowhere near the levels the city saw in the 1970s, the recent uptick has raised concerns over how to bring tourism back to pre-pandemic levels. 

An April CBRE report predicted that New York’s hotel industry wouldn’t resume normal occupancy rates until 2025, Commercial Observer reported. The report predicted an average occupancy level for hotels of 43 percent for the first half of 2021, an increase from the average 35 percent recorded in 2020.   

The long road to recovery might be hampered by some new COVID-19 variant roadblocks, however. Apple recently pushed back its return to the office until October as a result of the new variants, which has caused the virus to renew its spread. 

De Blasio said that he wasn’t concerned about the danger of bringing tourists back to the Big Apple as new variants cause an uptick in infections as long as visitors are vaccinated.

“If [people] think the solution is [for] everyone [to] go home and not participate in recovery, and allow ourselves to slip backwards into the world we were in — [if] that’s an option people want, [then] I want to see that they have their head examined,” de Blasio said. “I mean, this is crazy. Get vaccinated. It’s time for a very aggressive, assertive approach. People need to get vaccinated.”

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.