Miami’s Hotel Industry Pounded Hard by Coronavirus
The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is spreading like prairie fire all around the globe and the travel industry everywhere on the planet is taking more twists and turns than a heavy wagon trying to cross a deep jungle.
One particular case in point is the glamorous city of Miami, a place that earlier this year was jam-packed with visitors coming to watch the Super Bowl. However, now the situation has taken a U-turn and put a negative spin on the local hotel industry.
According to The Miami Herald, occupancy rates in the county’s 469 hotels — which total 150,000 rooms — have plummeted from nearly 90 percent last week to around 20 percent this week, according to Rolando Aedo, chief operating officer of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
That drastic loss of business will have a profound effect on 150,000 local workers employed in the hospitality sector, which does not even include airlines or the cruise industry.
Overnight visitors spent almost $26 billion in Miami-Dade and $7.6 billion in Broward in 2017, the last year for which annual figures are available.
Last week, major cruise lines worldwide announced they would halt operations for 30 days, leaving both Miami-Dade and Broward without the hundreds of thousands of monthly passengers heading to South Florida ports.
The latest STR report, a hotel industry research tool, showed that the occupancy rate in Miami-Dade for the second week in March dropped from 88.2% in 2019 to 65.6% in 2020. Broward County saw a similar drop, from 88.6% to 68.6%. Occupancy is expected to fall much further this week, after travel restrictions tightened.
For quite a large number of industry experts and hoteliers, this sweeping crisis has far more ramifications than the one caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
This crisis is “deeper and wider” for the tourism industry than the period following the 9/11 terrorism attacks, Aedo said. “It’s like 9/11 wrapped with Zika with the impact of the 2008 recession, and it’s all come together in a very tragic way. Our industry is getting the brunt of this initially, and because this industry is this community’s No. One industry, it’s going to reverberate throughout and already has,” he was quoted as saying to The Miami Herald.
The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is leading an effort to help. A fundraising effort with the United Way and Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association is in the works; proceeds will go directly to hospitality workers.
The bureau is launching a campaign to let local residents know that certain sectors of the hospitality industry — such as restaurants — are available for them and need their business, even if it is just via takeout and delivery. And it is developing a broader recovery plan, as it did post 9/11, oil spills, hurricanes and the Zika epidemic.