National Hotel Revenue Surges Past Pre-Pandemic Levels, But NYC Still Lags

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Americans are spending more at hotels than in 2019 across much of the country —especially in Florida — but New York City’s hospitality industry hasn’t fully recovered yet.

Hotel revenue from leisure travelers is projected to reach $97.8 billion nationwide by the end of 2022, according to data released this week by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a hotel industry trade group.

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Leisure travel will climb 14 percent compared to the pre-pandemic level set in 2019. But business travel revenue isn’t recovering as quickly this year and is expected to fall just short of 2019 levels, according to the report.

However, New York City hotels aren’t doing the same level of business as their counterparts elsewhere in the U.S. Leisure travel revenue for hotels in the five boroughs is expected to decline 4 percent, to $5.4 billion, compared to three years ago. And revenue from business travel will decline by a much larger margin of 22 percent, from $3.9 billion in 2019 to an expected $3 billion in 2022, the report found.

Most major U.S. cities are seeing similar trends in dropped business travel as many people opt for Zoom meetings. Hotels in D.C. reported business travel revenue declines of 28 percent from 2019, while San Francisco business travel declined 40 percent, Boston declined 16 percent, and San Jose, Calif., declined 33 percent.

Vijay Dandapani, who heads the Hotel Association of New York City, a local trade group, blamed New York hotels’ poor performance on a lack of international travelers from places such as China, India and Brazil.

Chinese travelers remain hesitant to leave their country because they are subject to strict quarantine rules when they return, Dandapani noted, and U.S. immigration agencies have a six-month backlog on processing visas from India and Brazil. He also pointed out that the city lost 17,000 hotel rooms since March 2020, including units in the Four Seasons (which is being partially converted to condos), the Roosevelt Hotel at East 45th Street and Madison Avenue, and the Maxwell Hotel at East 49th Street and Lexington Avenue.

He expects the city’s hotel market to rebound fully sometime in 2024.

“We think that the city’s hotels will rebound as we start seeing international travel in the business sector,” said Dandapani. “There’s still a hesitancy for business travel.”

But it’s not just New York City feeling the loss of leisure travelers, as a handful of other expensive hotel markets are also going to fall short of their pre-pandemic revenues. San Francisco hotels are expected to miss their 2019 leisure revenue numbers by 19 percent, D.C. by 2 percent and Seattle by 6 percent, according to the report.

Meanwhile, vacationers flocked to the Sunshine State significantly more than they did in 2019. Hotels in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., expect to see a 44 percent surge in leisure travel revenue compared to 2019, while Miami should see a 33 percent increase.

Tampa and Orlando also should surpass pre-pandemic levels of leisure travel, along with the less beachy cities of Dallas, Nashville, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C.

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com