Weekly demand for hotel rooms in New York City reached its highest level since the start of the pandemic, with over 481,000 room nights sold the week of July 12. That’s an increase 17,000 room nights, a jump of 3.5 percent compared to the previous week, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a press conference.
“This is incredible progress,” de Blasio said, adding that the city is closing in on its target of a half-million room nights weekly. “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.”
In the early days of the pandemic, the city’s hospitality industry was particularly hard hit, forcing massive job layoffs and closing many hotels, especially in Midtown. Reportedly about 100 hotels still remain closed.
And despite the good news, there are still headwinds for the industry that make recovery still a long road ahead. In normal times, tourism contributes $80 billion to the city’s GDP and accounts for 7.2 percent of total private-sector employment.
Now, concerns around the COVID-19 delta variant and the continued closure of US border to international inbound tourist travel just announced by the Biden administration is taking a bit of the shine off the Big Apple.
According to a study by hotel industry analysts CBRE earlier this year, the city should see hotel occupancy in the first half of 2021 rise to 43.3 percent, up from the dismal 35 percent posted in 2020. On average, the occupancy rate the study predicts a rise to 74.3 percent in 2022 and a return to a more normal 86-plus percent by 2025.
To help achieve those numbers, the city recently launched a $30 million marketing campaign, funded by federal dollars, to increase tourism. As far as COVID-19 keeping visitors away, de Blasio said new variants wouldn’t be a problem if people would just get the vaccine.
“I mean, this is crazy. Get vaccinated,” he urged. “It’s time for a very aggressive, assertive approach. People need to get vaccinated.”