New York’s hospitality industry, one of many victims of pandemic, asks for help

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At this time of last year, New York City had foot traffic – and restaurant and hotel traffic – for the United Nations General Assembly.Not this year. The annual summit is essentially virtual this year.

The loss to the hospitality industry alone is about $ 20 million. The industry says it is bleeding and needs a lifeline.

New York’s plan to PAUSE in March had a profound impact on the state.

In New York City, the virtual ghost town was weird and raised concerns that it could never bounce back. Gradually, however, pieces of the old life are returning – but members of the hospitality industry said on Tuesday they were largely ignored.

Vijay Dandapani, president and CEO of the NYC Hotel Association, said revenue fell 85% once lockout policies were put in place. And although they received business from the city and state, including 13,000 rooms occupied thanks to the Department of Homeless Services and other rooms occupied by frontline workers during the height of the pandemic, it still wasn’t enough.

“Right now the combined total of full revenue for all New York hotels, including what we get from the government, is around $ 5.4 million per day. Normally this would have been around $ 28 million per day, ”Dandapani said.

There are approximately 700 hotels across the city, with approximately 129,000 rooms available.

As of Tuesday, according to the New York Hotel Association, about 200 are closed temporarily or permanently, and that number, they say, will only increase.

The occupancy rate, for those open, is only 7% to 8% in total. The loss is extremely significant, especially for the approximately 55,000 employees in the hospitality industry.

John Fitzpatrick owns two hotels in Midtown Manhattan and only one is open and operational, with just 25 rooms used, mostly by airline employees. The majority of its 160 employees are on leave.

He said he didn’t want to think about what will happen to these employees, some of whom have worked for him for more than 30 years, if he doesn’t get help soon.

Dandapani believes that some policy changes could help keep the remaining hotels in business. For example, lifting the 14-day quarantine for visitors from certain states.

Dandapani suggests requiring RT-PCR testing of visitors, similar to what is done in the European Union. COVID-19 rapid test frees them from quarantine and allows New York to open up to tourists.

“Obviously, it depends on the health department, but it is done elsewhere. I am not making this up. I am not an epidemiologist, I am not an infectious disease specialist. I just look at what my counterparts are doing elsewhere and it works really well, ”he said.

With labor costs, operating costs and high property taxes, Dandapani is also begging the city to make concessions as well. He asks the city for a better interest rate in the event of a property tax default. It is 18% currently.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s press secretary Caitlin Girouard released this statement:

“Of course, we understand the challenges facing the tourism industry as travel around the world has essentially come to a halt, but we have to remember that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic and – with new ones. cases increasing by more than 15% in the last 10 days – everyone is trying to avoid a potential second wave that would increase infections and force businesses to shut down again. “



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