[Ed. – Plenty of hardship to go around.]
As spiking COVID-19 cases further derail travel, the U.S. hotel industry is closing in on a bleak marker: one billion empty rooms for the year.
More than 962 million room nights have gone unsold through last week, according to lodging data firm STR. That’s about 46% more than all of last year. Based on current occupancy rates, the industry will pass 1 billion unsold rooms around Christmas, deepening a crisis for owners that may worsen before a coronavirus vaccine can fuel a recovery.
In a normal year, vacant rooms are simply the cost of doing business in an industry that rents space by the night to travelers who sign annual leases on apartments and longer contracts for corporate offices. The occupancy rate for America’s 5.3 million hotel rooms was 66% in 2019, just short of the record high; even so, more than 650 million room nights went unsold.