Pandemic taking its toll on RI’s hospitality industry

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to stay home, and it’s taking a major economic toll on Rhode Island’s hospitality industry.

The financial impact the virus is having on hotel employees in Rhode Island may not be fully known for months to come, but numbers from the state’s Department of Labor and Training show the number of people working at hotels has dropped by 500 over the past year.

Last year, the DLT said the average hotel salary was 46% of the average household median income.

Kristen Adamo with the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau tells Eyewitness News that she fully expects the situation to worsen as the pandemic drags on.

“The bottom of our market has been 9/11. Tripadvisor and some others are saying it’s nine times worse,” Adamo said. “Look at March of 2019 and March of 2020 – we’ve seen about a 61.5% drop in occupancy and that’s with half the month being fine. So when April’s numbers come in, I think they’re going to be much much lower.”

A study by Oxford Economics and Hotel Effectiveness estimates that 70% of all hotel employees have been laid off or furloughed. In the coming months, Adamo said its unlikely hotels will begin filling back up, meaning they’ll have no need to rehire employees.

“There’s no graduations, no school visits and things like that, and then there’s no leisure tourism,” she said. “It’s really hitting them from all sides – and it will, I would say probably through the rest of 2020, at least.”

A spokesperson for T.F. Green International Airport said the volume of incoming travelers for the month of March was down 80%, while in April it’s down 95%.

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