PROVIDENCE – A new set of reports from a Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s economic outlook event held Thursday shows an industry hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently in a state of recovery.
Employment in lodging, food services and arts, entertainment and recreation in the state declined 62% from February 2020 to April 2020, bottoming out at 21,300 workers. By July 2021, the industries had rebounded to employing 59,500 workers, about 12,100 more than employed in July 2020 but still 7,300 fewer workers than that same month in 2019.
A majority of the jobs that have not returned to July 2019 levels were classified as jobs in the “food services and drinking places” sector, falling from 48,400 in July 2019 to 44,100 in July 2021.
COVID-19 was also said to have cost the state nearly 1,400 hotel jobs in 2021 when compared with 2019 levels, a 24.4% decline, worse than a 20.8% decline nationally.
The year-to-date occupancy rate of hotels in the state in July 2021 was 54.1%, a turnaround from 36.7% occupancy rate at that time in 2020, but still below 2019 figures, when the state’s occupancy rate was 64.1% in that period, according to a report prepared by Pinnacle Advisory Group that was outlined at Thursday’s economic outlook meeting.
Additionally, the report found that revenue per available room in Rhode Island, which is measured by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate by its occupancy rate, was $78.19 year to date in July, 82% of what it was in 2019, and a rise from just $44.22 in 2020.
Nationally, revenue per available room in that time had declined to 72% of 2019, the report said, a larger decline than was experienced in Rhode Island.
In a breakdown of several hotel markets in the state, occupancy rates were projected to largely recover by 2022, as corporate travel is expected to return to more normal levels, and normal tourism visitation patterns reemerge, however, beyond recovery from the pandemic, economic growth was projected to be slow over the next five years.
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