5 things to know: 4 September 2020
5 things to know: 4 September 2020
04 SEPTEMBER 2020 9:41 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • US adds 1.4 million jobs in August
  • Hilton Times Square announces closing
  • Louisiana, Texas see demand increase from Hurricane Laura
  • Dominican Republic eases travel restriction
  • Typhoons Maysak and Haishen cause damage

U.S. adds 1.4 million jobs in August: According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Labor Department, the economy added 1.4 million jobs in August, down from 1.7 million added in July and nearly 4.8 million in June, The New York Times reports.

Employers continued to bring furloughed workers back in August, but at a “far slower” pace than months prior. The unemployment rate declined 8.4% during the month compared to 10.2% in July.

“The drop brings the rate below the peak of the last recession a decade ago, when unemployment briefly hit 10%, but joblessness is still higher than the peak of many past recessions,” the Times writes.

“Disappointingly, demand and employment have stalled … stronger restaurant activity was offset by weaker retail, recreation and hotel demand along with reduced credit card spending,” Oxford Chief U.S. Economist Gregory Daco said.

Hilton Times Square announces closing: The Wall Street Journal reports one of Manhattan’s most prominent hotels, the 478-room Hilton Times Square, will shut down on a long-term basis and lay off 200 workers as New York City’s hotel industry struggles from the pandemic.

Sunstone Hotel Investors, which controls the hotel, issued a public filing on Monday with the New York State Department of Labor saying job cuts will come into effect in October. The hotel is franchised under the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand.

A spokesman for Sunstone said the company made the filing to indicate that the layoffs could last more than six months, and the “filing was not intended to imply that there is a permanent closure.” A reopening date has not been determined, the spokesman told the Journal, and “will be impacted by negotiations with our lender, as well as market conditions.”

Louisiana, Texas see demand increase from Hurricane Laura: According to the first set of post-Hurricane Laura data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now, Louisiana and Texas markets have recorded noticeable lift in hotel demand due to widescale evacuations and displacements, writes STR’s Claudia Alvarado and Kwabena (Kobe) Akuffo Owoo.

The three STR-defined markets in Louisiana reported an increase in occupancy from the week before: Louisiana South (+45% to 66.1%), Louisiana North (+34.4% to 70%) and New Orleans (+24.7% to 38.5%).

Six markets in Texas reported double-digit percentage increases, led by San Antonio with a 38.1% rise to 59.1%. Of the STR-defined markets in Texas, Texas East recorded the highest absolute occupancy level among markets that reported increases in the metric (+17.4% to 61%).

Dominican Republic eases travel restriction: In a set of new polices to go into effect on 15 September, the Dominican Republic is working to make visiting the island easier as many Caribbean nations are competing for tourism dollars, Travel and Leisure reports.

Its new “Responsible Tourism Recovery Plan” will no longer require travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country, and mass testing at the airport will now only be randomized.

“To ease some of the concerns of would-be travelers … tourists visiting a hotel will be offered a temporary, free travel assistance plan until December 2020. In addition to general emergency coverage, the free insurance plan covers COVID-19 testing, as well as cost coverage for long-term stays should a traveler fall ill or need to quarantine,” the outlet writes.

The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism said in a statement that the new recovery plan “seeks to minimize the effects of the pandemic and promote a responsible recovery that prioritizes health, maximizes the potential for job creation and economic growth, and encourages the sector to continue developing in a sustainable way.”

Typhoons Maysak and Haishen cause damage: The Japan Times reports Typhoon Haishen is approaching southwestern Japan with expectations of record rainfall, large waves and high tides. The approach of this storm comes just after Typhoon Maysak made landfall on the Korean Peninsula, injuring 20.

Typhoon Maysak caused blackouts and stopped some bullet trains and flights in the region, the news outlet reports. NK News reports that widespread flooding occurred near Wonsan-Kalma airport and a beach resort project that was put on hold due to COVID-19.

Typhoon Haishen is forecast to hit Okinawa by Sunday and has potential to be even more dangerous, The Japan Times writes.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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