Experts warn financial damage to travel, hotel industry could cause ripple effect in RI

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The coronavirus pandemic and the travel restrictions from it have hurt the travel and hotel industry, and the R.I. Hospitality Association says without Congressional assistance, the damage could eventually be beyond repair.

A new study from the American Hotel and Lodging Association reveals nearly 50% of hotels in the Ocean State could close by the middle of 2021.

“That’s 6,000 Rhode Islanders without a job,” R.I. Hospitality Association Chairman Faruk Rajab said.

Rajab said the possible closures are the result of months of declined tourism and canceled events, and President of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau Kristen Adamo agrees.

“It’s the convention center, it’s WaterFire, it’s PPAC,” Adamo said. “It’s all of that, we lost all of those things. That in turn impacts the hotels.”

Rajab and Adam both said hotels are part of a much larger financial ecosystem.

“The collapse of the hotel industry is the collapse of many other industries,” Rajab said.

For examples, they mentioned that food vendors, transportation companies, special event planning companies and restaurants are all being impacted by the pandemic.

“We’re projected to lose $50 million in direct spending ─ $40 million of that is in Providence,” Adamo said.

Adamo said Rhode Island’s tourism-based economy is likely in trouble without a federal stimulus. She said it will have a long-term impact that goes beyond hotels.

“Don’t forget, Johnson & Wales [University], one of the most prestigious schools in Providence, is built on hospitality,” Rajab said.

Rajab said if 6,000 hotel workers ultimately lose their jobs, that number could grow to more than 18,000 unemployed in the hospitality industry.

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