As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads around the world, this Hotel News Now timeline tracks the major events that have an impact on the global hotel industry.
Editor’s note: This timeline was last updated on 13 October 2020. It does not contain information on all hotel closings around the world, only some that serve as indicators of larger trends. For the most up-to-date hotel closure information, visit the hotel’s website.
GLOBAL REPORT—This timeline tracks major events surrounding the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its intersection with the global hotel industry. This timeline will be updated regularly, and we invite you to visit Hotel News Now’s page tracking the impact of coronavirus on travel and hotels for complete reporting.
World Health Organization declares outbreak a global health emergency
Signaling an impact beyond the initial outbreak in China, the World Health Organization declares a global health emergency around the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
US imposes first travel restrictions; early analysis shows hit from Chinese tourists to US
The Trump Administration announces a temporary travel restriction barring U.S. entry by foreign nationals who had traveled to China in recent weeks.
Early analysis by Tourism Economics calls for a potential 25% drop in Chinese visitors to the U.S. in 2020, leading to a loss of 4 million roomnights and $5.8 billion in visitor spending.
Preliminary hotel data shows steep China declines
Preliminary data and analysis from STR shows a hotel occupancy decline of 75% in Mainland China from 14-26 January 2020. Performance during the Chinese New Year holiday period was significantly worsened by the outbreak of COVID-19. (STR is parent company of Hotel News Now.)
“Many hotels in Beijing have closed. Beijing is the first destination people go to from Wuhan,” Christine Liu, STR regional manager for North Asia, tells Hotel News Now. “This is likely to be far worse than 17 years ago, when the SARS virus occurred, as people travel more than they did then and because it was the lunar period.”
Asia hotel closures spread
Hotel companies and governments institute property closures to help curb the spread of the virus outside of the initial outbreak areas. The Macau government suspends gaming operations on 4 February; and by 7 February, hotel companies are closing properties. Along with other companies with hotels in the region, MGM China Holdings Limited closes all Macau properties by 12 February, GGRAsia.com reported.
Reporting 2019 year-end and Q4 earnings, hotel companies share updates on their China and Asia operations, including initial closures and their early effects on outlook. On 10 February, Hilton reports 150 hotels, including 33,000 rooms have closed. On 13 February, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts reports 1,000 hotel closures in Mainland China. On 17 February, InterContinental Hotels Group reports 160 of its hotels in Greater China are partially to fully closed; and on 26 February, Marriott International reports 90 of the company’s hotels in Greater China are closed.
Early hotel data emerges showing virus impact
As the travel industry begins to feel the impact of restrictions and cancellations, STR analysts examine data to determine the early effects of the coronavirus outbreak on markets around the globe, including the Asia/Pacific region, Bali, Australia and New Zealand, Singapore, Dubai and Europe.
Hyatt withdraws guidance
Hyatt Hotels Corporation announces the withdrawal of its previously announced 2020 outlook “due to the impact on travel demand outside of Greater China, in part as a result of new corporate travel restrictions in North America and Europe, as well as near-term cancellations outside of Greater China, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
US travel associations send safety message
In a joint news conference, five U.S. travel and commercial organizations send the message that travel is safe, and canceling trips and meetings is not necessary.
Pebblebrook withdraws guidance; HSI falls in February
Pebblebrook Hotel Trust withdraws its 2020 full-year and Q1 outlooks citing coronavirus effects. Data also is released showing the Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index fell 11.7% in February.
Hilton, Park withdraw 2020 guidance
Hilton and Park Hotels & Resorts are the latest public lodging companies to withdraw Q1 and full-year 2020 outlooks, citing uncertainty and the rapidly changing situation around the coronavirus epidemic.
Pandemic declared, travel advisories expand
On a pivotal day in the unfolding developments around the spread of the virus, the World Health Organization designates COVID-19 a pandemic. At this point, the WHO cites 118,000 cases, more than 4,000 deaths and presence of the virus on all continents except Antarctica.
President Trump outlines plans to stop most Europeans from traveling to the U.S. for 30 days, and the U.S. Department of State issues a Global Level 3 health advisory urging U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel abroad” due to the virus.
AHLA calls for industry stimulus
American Hotel & Lodging Association executives brief the industry on meetings with U.S. government officials, in which they requested “immediate steps to help small business owners and their employees by ensuring access to capital, liquidity and increased credit markets,” AHLA EVP of government affairs Brian Crawford says. “We want our small business owners to be able to continue to employ their employees during this difficult patch.”
Markets take a fall
U.S. stocks fall 7% after the market opens, following similar declines in European and Asia-Pacific markets. U.S. stocks enter bear market territory, with travel companies hit particularly hard.
CorePoint withholds 2020 guidance
Citing the business impact from coronavirus and other economic concerns, executives with CorePoint Lodging withhold 2020 guidance on a call to report fourth-quarter and full-year 2019 earnings with analysts.
“As we've all seen, over the last few weeks, there's been a sudden and rapid deterioration in the macro lodging environment due to the actual and anticipated impact of the COVID-19 environment,” CorePoint President and CEO Keith Cline says.
Spanish government orders hotels close immediately
Spain’s government announces on 14 March that hotels are on a list of non-essential businesses that must close effective immediately, reported by the Associated Press.
Casino companies, Disney announce closures; CDC calls for more group limitations
Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts both announce they will close all Las Vegas properties starting Tuesday, 17 March. Disney, which first announced staggered closures of all its parks worldwide on 12 March, announces the closure of all Walt Disney World resort hotels and Vero Beach Resort on Friday, 20 March.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issues guidance calling for cancellation or postponement of in-person events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, which spurs several state governments to call for restaurants and bars to close.
Fed rate cut prompts more stock drops; Park, Scandic give updates
Stocks fall worldwide following an announcement from the U.S. Federal Reserve that the central bank cut interest rates close to zero.
On the real estate investment trust front, Park Hotels & Resorts announces it has taken “various actions, independently and in coordination with its hotel management companies, to mitigate the effect on its business” from the COVID-19 virus.
Stockholm-based Scandic Hotels Group’s Board of Directors announces a plan to cancel its 2019 dividend to shareholders.
UK, Canada announce more restrictions
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson advises citizens to avoid gatherings and all non-essential travel. At the same time, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces Canada will close its borders to all non-citizens/non-permanent residents, with the exception of U.S. citizens.
Marriott begins furlough of employees as property closures ramp up globally
A spokeswoman for Marriott International tells The Wall Street Journal that the company expects furloughs at its properties around the globe to reach into the tens of thousands as hotels continue to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company said it expects to “bring back as many of the furloughed employees as possible when the novel coronavirus is contained and business returns,” The Journal reports.
US travel industry presents $150b aid plan to White House
Executives from U.S. travel industry associations meet with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other travel leaders to present a plan calling for $150 billion in relief for the travel sector. The plan includes suggestions to establish a Travel Workforce Stabilization Fund, an Emergency Liquidity Facility for travel businesses and to optimize and modify SBA loan programs to support small businesses and employees, reports HNN’s Dana Miller.
Brand, REIT employee reductions begin; companies lay out strategies
On 17 March, Marriott International issues a statement about temporary furloughs of tens of thousands of workers around the world. On 19 March, Marriott executives explain early strategies to help reduce cash outlays for owners, implement corporate-level, cost-saving measures and provide emergency assistance for employees.
In subsequent days, news emerges from other hotel brand companies and real estate investment trusts about employee reductions and ways they are assisting workers. Hilton says it is connecting “workers from temporarily suspended hotels with … short-term jobs created by the global pandemic” through an online resource center. Hyatt announces a combination of suspended operations, temporary furloughs and pay and work reductions, along with resources for benefits and health care.
On the REIT side, Ashford Inc. CEO Monty Bennett tells CBS News on 18 March the company has laid off or furloughed 95% of its 7,000 employees, and one-third of the company’s salaried staff was permanently let go. Pebblebrook Hotel Trust on 23 March announces it will temporarily suspend operations “at the vast majority of its hotels and resorts,” along with significantly reducing staffing.
Australia and New Zealand detail border closings; US adds to travel advisory
Australia and New Zealand will close borders this week to non-citizens and non-residents, with some exceptions. According to The Guardian, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ban is in place because most COVID-19 cases in the country had come from overseas.
The U.S. Department of State raises the global travel advisory to Level 4, the most severe level, which advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel.
As lockdowns progress, hotels follow suit
As the pandemic marches on, states around the United States adopt varying levels of partial to full lockdown protocols, which include hotels in some locations. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez on 21 March issued an emergency order to close all hotels in the county, with exemptions for first responders, medical personnel and some other groups, as reported by ABC-7 News in Miami.
On 24 March, India’s prime minister announces “a total ban of coming out of your homes” for all 1.3 billion people living in India, for 21 days, as reported in The New York Times.
UK Parliament passes relief legislation
The Coronavirus Act 2020 receives royal assent in the United Kingdom on 25 March, granting the government emergency powers to respond to the pandemic. The emergency package is worth £350 billion ($404.8 billion), equivalent to approximately 15% of the U.K. gross domestic product, and includes loans, individual grants for hospitality and other businesses that meet certain thresholds, and a yearlong holiday from paying business rates.
MEA hotels face huge occupancy drops
STR data for the week ending 21 March shows occupancy at the majority of hotels in the Middle East and Africa dropping below 30%. Dubai hotel occupancy dropped 75% in February and March, and Saudi Arabia’s holy cities of Makkah and Medina hit all-time occupancy lows, according to STR, likely because visas to Muslim pilgrims were suspended on 27 February.
Trump signs $2-trillion stimulus bill
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a $2-trillion U.S. stimulus package known as the CARES Act into law, offering aid in the form of direct payments to individuals, expanded unemployment insurance and loans and grants to businesses, among other provisions.
Mainland China hotels show early signs of recovery
Hotel occupancy in Mainland China reaches an absolute level of 31.8%, an increase from 7.4% in the first week of February, according to preliminary data from STR.
“We’re seeing green shoots in hotel occupancy figures, but we must stress that these are only early signs of a recovery that is likely to develop slowly,” Christine Liu, STR’s regional manager for North Asia, said. “Some of the demand stems from corporate travel, primarily within the same province, as well as small-scale meetings. Additionally, hotels are seeing business from those travelers quarantined after returning to China from other countries as well as those returning to cities for work. Overall, we’re seeing limited leisure business in city centers but a bit more recovery in that segment in surrounding suburbs.”
US RevPAR projected to drop 50.6% in 2020
STR and Tourism Economics release a 2020 forecast revision for the United States, projecting a 50.6% revenue-per-available-room decline in 2020. The revised forecast accounts for a 14.9% supply drop, a 51.2% demand drop, a 42.6% occupancy drop and a 13.9% decline in average daily rate.
UK, European hotel performance spirals downward
STR data shows occupancy in London and Dublin was down 80% for the week ending 22 March, compared to the same week in 2019. In Europe, Prague recorded a 97% occupancy decline for the same week.
Half the world under lockdown; US job losses hit high
Four billion people—roughly half the world’s population—are under some form of stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order, according to The New York Times.
Also on 3 April, the U.S. Department of Labor issues March employment data showing a total of 701,000 job losses in March. Reuters reports “the leisure and hospitality sector shed 459,000 jobs--65% of all the positions lost in March. The loss, the largest monthly decline in the sector ever, effectively wiped out two years of employment gains in the industry.”
AHLA requests more relief
The American Hotel & Lodging Association sends a letter to Congress asking for additional resources and amendments to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The letter asks for more funding, increased limits on SBA loans and more.
Some European countries ease lockdown restrictions
Germany, the Czech Republic, Norway, Poland and Albania join Italy, Spain, Austria and Denmark among countries lifting some coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions, The Guardian reports. Restrictions around hotels, travel, large gatherings and vacation home usage vary by country and region in most cases.
UK hoteliers seek expanded relief measures
UK Hospitality representatives present to the House of Commons Treasury Committee requests for additional resources for hospitality businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The association is asking for extensions and more resources for furlough and retention programs, loan availability and more.
March 2020 US hotel performance shows new lows
STR posts March 2020 hotel performance data for the U.S., which shows double-digit year-over-year declines. Occupancy in March was down 42.3% year over year to 39.4%, average daily rate dropped 16.5% to $110.66, and revenue per available room fell 51.9% to $43.54 in the same time period.
March numbers show hotel declines across globe
Hotels in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Central and South America show continuing performance decline, according to STR data. In comparisons to March 2019 data (reported in U.S. dollar constant currency except where otherwise noted):
• Asia/Pacific hotel occupancy fell 59.5% year over year to 28.3% as ADR declined 17.6% to $80.82 and RevPAR dropped 66.7% to $22.85.
• Europe hotel occupancy fell 61.6% to 26.3%, ADR dipped 8.1% to €96.13 ($104.17) and RevPAR decreased 64.7% to €25.27 ($27.37).
• Middle East occupancy fell 51.5% to 35.6% as ADR dipped 19.3% to $114.88 and RevPAR dropped 60.8% to $40.86.
• Africa's hotels saw occupancy similarly decrease 51.6% to 31.1%, ADR decline 6.4% to $102.09 and RevPAR decrease 54.7% to $31.72.
• Central/South America occupancy declined 48% to 31%, ADR dipped 6.1% to $85.61 and RevPAR dropped 51.2% to $26.56.
President Trump signs new relief package
An additional $484 billion in relief funding for U.S. businesses hit by the coronavirus is released in legislation and signed by President Donald Trump. The legislation includes $310 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.
US states begin easing lockdown restrictions
Alaska, Oklahoma and Georgia begin to reopen their economies to select businesses, lifting some restrictions on hair and nail salons, restaurants and others, according to CNN.
- Check out the USA Today interactive map tracking when U.S. states ease lockdown restrictions.
GOPPAR down more than 100% in the US for March
New monthly P&L data from STR shows that U.S. hotel gross operating profit per available room dropped 101.7% year over year in March. Total revenue per available room decreased 64% to $104.93 and total labor costs dropped 31.2% to $66.16.
China, South Korea move to revive business travel
South Korea and China strike a bilateral agreement to facilitate some business travel between the countries by easing some border controls, The Wall Street Journal reports. Beginning 1 May, South Korean business travelers are free to travel to seven provinces and three major cities in China, and Chinese business travel to South Korea is open, with heath-screening protocols in place.
Countries, regions vary in approaches to lift restrictions
Many countries and states around the world begin to ease pandemic-related restrictions for various types of businesses, while others continue to gradually lift restrictions, Business Insider reports. Also, a leaked U.K. government document, reported by the BBC, outlines the country’s approach to easing restrictions.
Q1 results are in
First-quarter performance and earnings results roll in from public lodging companies and as predicted, the results are not good. With the coronavirus pandemic reaching widespread global coverage in the last month of the first quarter, revenue per available room dropped sharply. While executives for the most part agree the second quarter will reflect even worse performance, several CEOs show some hope for the third quarter of 2020.
UK’s Boris Johnson outlines reopening plan
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the nation to “provide the first sketch of a road map for reopening society,” which establishes a general reopening schedule and calls for “at least some of the hospitality industry” to reopen by July at the earliest.
Final US states plan reopening
Massachusetts and Connecticut, the final states to outline reopening plans, are partially reopening this week.
States across the U.S. continue to vary in their approaches to reopening, with hospitality sector reopening guidelines varying widely.
- For more details on state reopening plans, visit the AHLA’s Reopening Guidance Tracker.
- For details on European countries easing travel restrictions, visit The Guardian.
‘Air bridges’ and ‘travel bubbles’ emerge
U.K. executives say the country may eventually allow travelers from countries with low coronavirus infection rates to enter the U.K. via what U.K. Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps called “air bridges.”
On 16 May, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia opened a “travel bubble,” the first within the European Union, according to The Straits Times. Some EU countries have lifted some restrictions for controlled business or government travel, and government leaders of Australia and New Zealand agreed they would pursue a travel bubble once travel is deemed safe.
Analysts further downgrade hotel performance forecasts
STR, Tourism Economics, CBRE and PwC issue revised downgrades to their 2020 and 2021 forecasts, citing multiple factors that could slow down recovery. Lack of corporate group and inbound international travel are factors affecting recovery time, analysts say, while employment and income will determine demand moving forward.
US hotel occupancy falls to 24.5% in April
STR records U.S. hotel key performance indicators at all-time lows for the month of April. Compared to April 2019, occupancy fell 63.9% to 24.5%; ADR fell 44.4% to $73.23; and RevPAR dropped 79.9% to $17.93.
Non-US regions record further performance drops
STR data shows continued downward motion for key performance indicators throughout the world in April. Compared to performance in April 2019:
- Europe: Occupancy fell 84.6% to 11.1%; ADR (in Euro constant currency) fell 30.1% to €77.52 ($86.57); RevPAR dropped 89.2% to €8.58 ($9.58).
- Asia/Pacific: Occupancy fell 60.3% to 28%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) fell 44.8% to $54.97; RevPAR dropped 78.1% to $15.38.
- Middle East: Occupancy fell 58% to 31.2%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) dropped 35.1% to $95.54; RevPAR decreased 72.7% to $29.82.
- Africa: occupancy fell 79.8% to 12.5%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) declined 31.1% to $77.85; RevPAR decreased 86.1% to $9.75.
- Central/South America: occupancy fell 79.7% to 11.6%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) decreased 28.7% to $61.83; RevPAR dropped 85.5% to $7.17.
EU proposes coronavirus recovery plan
The European Union proposes a $2-trillion coronavirus response plan, which calls for €750 billion ($837.5 billion) in recovery dollars and a €1.1 trillion ($1.23 trillion) budget over seven years, according to The Wall Street Journal. The plan calls for “a massive fiscal injection” for the hardest-hit EU countries, according to the report, without increasing debt levels for some nations.
Boris Johnson updates UK lockdown restrictions
The U.K. remains under lockdown, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces some restrictions will ease. As of 1 June, groups of six people can gather, some students will return to schools in phases and more retail locations will plan reopening, according to the Independent.
US consumer spending falls in April
U.S. consumer spending fell a record 13.6% in April from the previous month, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data. Personal income for the month rose 10.5%, reflecting a rise in government payments through stimulus payments, according to The Wall Street Journal.
UK imposes quarantine on incoming visitors
The United Kingdom government issues a self-isolation rule to go into effect 8 June mandating all residents and visitors entering or returning to the U.K. must self-isolate for 14 days, with some exceptions. Violators can face fines up to £1,000 ($1,257).
US recession started in February
The National Bureau of Economic Research announces the U.S. officially entered a recession in February, marking the end of the 128-month expansion that began in June 2009.
US prepares for uptick in summer travel
The New York Times reports the U.S. Transportation Security Administration screened more than 440,000 people on 7 June, “the best day since March,” according to the article. As a result of the uptick in air travel, airline stock prices rose, and according to the article, carriers including American Airlines and United say they plan to add flights, particularly in July.
Forecasts show second wave could devastate
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development releases projections showing what a second wave of COVID-19 cases could mean if governments return to full lockdowns. The OECD predicts world economic output would fall 7.6% in 2020 before climbing back 2.8% in 2021. If a second wave of infections is avoided, global economic activity is expected to fall by 6% in 2020. Additionally, the OECD predicts gross domestic product in the Eurozone would decline 11.5% in 2020, while GDP in the U.S. would decline 8.5%.
April: UK’s largest economic fall in history
The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics shows the country’s economy contracted 20.4% in April, the largest decline since monthly record-keeping began. According to the ONS, the decline is three times greater than the decline seen during the financial crash of 2008 to 2009.
Additional EU borders reopen
France eases more restrictions, allowing cafes and restaurants to reopen in Paris, and some travel. As reported by NBC News, France opened its border with other European countries the evening of 14 June and will allow visitors from other continents 1 July.
This marks the latest in European travel corridors to open. According to a Hotel News Now report, “Today France and Germany open their borders to all European nations, with a few restrictions regarding other specific European nations; and Switzerland is allowing in citizens from Austria, France and Germany, but not those from Italy, which opened its doors to everyone on 3 June.”
Thailand targets wealthy travelers
Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says that once the country’s borders open for tourism—planned for later this year—the country will target small numbers of wealthy travelers, who will be able to travel around the island and must stay for at least 14 days, according to Bloomberg.
US hotel occupancy falls to 33.1% in May
STR reports U.S. hotel occupancy fell 51.7% year over year to 33.1% in May as ADR decreased 39.9% to $79.57 and RevPAR declined 71% to $26.35, compared to May 2019 data.
Dubai sets reopening protocols
Foreign nationals holding Dubai residency visas will be able to return to the emirate beginning 22 June, and citizens and residents also will be free to travel to other countries beginning then as well, according to a statement from the government of Dubai. The emirate will begin welcoming overseas visitors and tourists beginning 7 July, provided they follow requirements including testing, thermal screenings and other restrictions.
Non-US regions record deeper drops in May
STR data shows continued downward motion for key performance indicators throughout the world in May. Compared to performance in May 2019:
- Europe: Occupancy fell 82.3% to 13.3%; ADR (in Euro constant currency) fell 33.7% to €77.56 ($87.50) and RevPAR declined 88.3% to €10.30 ($11.62).
- Asia/Pacific: Occupancy fell 47.3% to 35.8%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) fell 40.2% to $55.93 and RevPAR decreased 68.5% to $20.04 for the month.
- Middle East: Occupancy decreased 31% to 36%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) 45.6% to $87.84 and RevPAR dropped 62.5% to $31.59.
- Africa: occupancy fell 72.1% to 14.2%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) 26.6% to $70.09 and RevPAR decreased 79.5% to $9.97.
- Central/South America: occupancy fell 73% to 15.3%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) dropped 34.3% to $54.17 and RevPAR fell 82.2% to $8.31.
US hotel profitability improves slightly in May
STR‘s latest monthly P&L data release shows U.S. hotel gross operating profit per available room down 110.1% in May. That percentage change was a slight improvement from April’s decline of 116.9%. Additionally, limited-service properties showed positive profitability on average when surpassing 45% occupancy.
Some US states shut back down as cases mount
Following coronavirus surges across primarily the lower half of the United States, some states are re-closing some businesses in an effort to curb the latest wave. On 26 June, Florida suspended alcohol consumption in bars, following a daily record for new cases in the state, according to NBC Miami. Texas on that day also shut bars back down and scaled back restaurant capacity to 50%, according to the Texas Tribune. Other states, including Arizona, Florida and California, are re-closing some businesses, pausing reopening phases and/or imposing new restrictions to curb surges.
EU members ban 15 countries, including US
The 27 member states of the European Union now have agreed to ban travelers from 15 countries from entering the EU once it opens beginning 1 July. Visitors from the United States, Russia, Brazil and India will be excluded because of high infection rates, according to The Guardian.
The list is considered advisory and will be updated every two weeks. Member states may choose to deviate from the list, according to the report.
US regains some jobs in June
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows the economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, dropping the unemployment rate to 11.1%, The Wall Street Journal reports. Those numbers do not factor in, however, recent government-mandated business closures and the resulting layoffs.
UK hotels reopen
COVID-19-related lockdowns for the U.K. hospitality sector ended today, as hotels, restaurants and pubs reopen. The exception to reopening is Leicester, which will remain closed until mid-July at least, to contain a localized spike, reports HNN’s Terence Baker.
Florida breaks daily coronavirus case record
Florida records 15,300 new COVID-19 cases on 12 July, surpassing the previous one-day high of 12,274 cases recorded in April in New York. The New York Times reports the number “reflects both increased testing and a surge in transmission of the virus.”
On 11 July, Disney World theme parks Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom in Orlando reopen to the public, with plans to open Epcot and Hollywood Studios on 15 July.
UK VAT cut in play
Today the temporary United Kingdom value-added/sales tax cut on some goods and services, including hotels and restaurants, is enacted. The reduction, from 20% to 5%, is in place through 12 January 2021, but some firms are using the benefit “to shore up finances hit by the lockdown, rather than cut prices,” according to the BBC.
Bahamas bans US visitors
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announces visitors from the United States will not be permitted to enter the Bahamas by air or sea, given surging COVID-19 cases stateside. As reported in the Miami Herald, visitors from Canada, the U.K. and the European Union may still enter provided they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
US notches slightly higher June performance but low overall
The U.S. hotel industry showed slightly higher performance from May 2020, but still overall low numbers for June, according to STR. Compared with June 2019, U.S. hotel occupancy dropped 42.5% to 42.2%, ADR fell 31.5% to $92.15 and RevPAR fell 60.6% to $38.88.
Global KPIs drop in June
STR data shows continued year-over-year downward motion for key performance indicators throughout the world in June. Compared to performance in June 2019:
• Europe: Occupancy fell 72.8% to 21.6%; ADR (in Euro constant currency) fell 34.8% to €83.69 ($97.17); and RevPAR declined 82.3% to €18.11 ($21.03).
• Asia/Pacific: Occupancy fell 43% to 38.8%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) fell 35.2% to $58.86; and RevPAR decreased 63.1% to $22.82.
• Middle East: Occupancy decreased 42.9% to 33.6%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) 24.9% to $97.31; and RevPAR dropped 57.1% to $32.72.
• Africa: Occupancy fell 76.8% to 13.8%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) 27.1% to $74.13; and RevPAR decreased 83.1% to $10.23.
• Central/South America: Occupancy fell 68.9% to 17.3%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) dropped 34.6% to $53.77; and RevPAR fell 79.7% to $9.31.
Hotel profitability improves month over month
U.S. hotel gross operating profit per available room fell 105.4% in June compared to the same month in 2019, but that year-over-year percentage change showed continued improvement from April (-116.9%) and May (-110.1%). According to STR monthly P&L data, some full-service properties broke even with occupancy at 50%, one month after limited-service properties showed positive profitability on average when surpassing 45% occupancy.
Bahamas reverses US ban
Reversing course on the decision to ban U.S. visitors, the Bahamian attorney general says the nation will welcome U.S. travelers provided they quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and take a COVID-19 test at the end of that period. According to the Miami Herald, the official statement outlining the reversal does not offer a reason.
UK imposes quarantine rules for travelers from Spain
In a late-night statement, the U.K. government imposes immediate requirements that travelers from Spain to the U.K. must self-isolate for 14 days. As reported by The Guardian, the move comes following an increase in the virus in Spain, which saw a spike in cases over the last few days.
Masks required at Marriott, IHG, Hyatt hotels
Starting today, guests at Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group and Hyatt Hotels Corporation hotels in the U.S. and Canada must wear masks in lobbies and public spaces. The move by these brands follows guidelines issued by the American Hotel & Lodging Association on 16 July that lay out a “Safe Stay Guest Checklist,” which includes requiring face coverings, practicing social distancing, contactless options and more.
Hilton, Wyndham latest to require masks
Hilton and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts now require all guests to wear face coverings inside public areas in hotels in the U.S. Hilton announces on 24 July its mandate will go into effect on 28 July and Wyndham announces 29 July its mandate will go into effect 10 August.
US GDP sinks
U.S. gross domestic product for the second quarter of 2020 fell by a record 32.9% on an annualized basis, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Eurozone GDP follows with historic drop
The economy of the eurozone fell by 12.1% in the second quarter, according to preliminary estimates by Eurostat. The worst-performing economy within the eurozone was Spain, which was down 18.5%. Germany was down 10.1%, Italy was down 12.4% and France dropped 13.8%.
US State Department lifts travel advisory
After more than four months, the U.S. State Department lifts the “Do Not Travel” advisory warning U.S. citizens not to travel abroad. While the blanket advisory is lifted, CNN reports the State Department is returning to its previous system of issuing country-specific travel advice.
World hits 20 million reported coronavirus cases
Figures from Johns Hopkins University show the world reached 20 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and close to 750,000 deaths. CNN reports the global case count was 10 million on 28 June and took only six weeks to double. The Johns Hopkins data shows the latest rise in cases is driven by Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as by a recent rise in cases in Asia.
Leisure and hospitality unemployment numbers high
The leisure and hospitality sector accounted for 11% of pre-pandemic employment in the U.S., and according to new U.S. Travel Association data, 40% of excess unemployment today is in this sector. The report shows nearly half of the 16.9 million jobs in this sector were lost in March and April.
STR downgrades US hotel forecast
Full recovery in U.S. hotel demand and room revenue remains unlikely until 2023 and 2024, respectively, according to the slightly downgraded STR and Tourism Economics forecast. The new 2020 forecast calls for demand to drop 38.9% from 2019 levels, occupancy to drop 39.7%, ADR to drop 20.9% and RevPAR to drop 52.3% (all figures reflect total room inventory methodology, which assumes no temporary hotel closures).
New York City cracks down on travelers from restricted states
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signs an executive order requiring hotels and short-term rentals to get coronavirus quarantine forms from travelers from restricted states. As of today, the tri-state region of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut requires travelers from 33 states, plus the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, to quarantine for 14 days after arriving.
US hotel performance slightly higher in July than June
The U.S. hotel industry showed slightly higher performance from the month prior, but at overall low levels during July 2020, according to data from STR. U.S. hotel occupancy fell 36.1% year over year to 47% in July as ADR dropped 24.8% to $101.76 and RevPAR declined 52% to $47.84. (Data is reported using STR’s standard methodology.)
Global KPIs continue drops in July
STR data shows continued year-over-year downward motion for key performance indicators throughout the world in July. Compared to performance in July 2019:
• Europe: Occupancy fell 66.4% to 26.5%; ADR (in Euro constant currency) fell 20.9% to €96.43 ($113.44); and RevPAR declined 73.4% to €25.51 ($30.01).
• Asia/Pacific: Occupancy fell 36.5% to 46.3%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) fell 30.6% to $64.35; and RevPAR decreased 55.9% to $29.78.
• Middle East: Occupancy decreased 41.8% to 35.3%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) declined 9.6% to $106.93; and RevPAR dropped 47.4% to $37.70.
• Africa: Occupancy fell 72.9% to 16.9%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) dipped 10.8% to $93.98; and RevPAR decreased 75.8% to $15.91.
• Central/South America: Occupancy fell 68.6% to 19%; ADR (in U.S. dollar constant currency) dropped 33.8% to $53.40; and RevPAR fell 79.2% to $10.13.
All data above reported using STR’s standard methodology.
US hotel P&L turned positive in July
U.S. hotel gross operating profit per available room reached positive territory for the first time since February, according to STR‘s latest monthly P&L data. Compared to July 2019, the U.S. industry reported the following in July 2020:
• GOPPAR: -93.3% to $5.74
• TRevPAR: -74.1% to $60.04
• EBITDA PAR: -115.1% to -$9.24
• LPAR (Labor Costs): -64.8% to $28.46
The industry had registered negative GOPPAR values for four consecutive months: March (-$2.10), April (-$17.98), May (-$10.26) and June (-$5.89).
Australia traces majority of cases to two hotels
Australian health officials have tracked 99% of COVID-19 infections in Melbourne, Australia, to two hotels in that city, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The country has made use of hotels to quarantine returning travelers. But “inadequate training, inconsistent use of masks and poor record-keeping” at the two offending hotels—which were not named in the report—created an opening for the virus to spread, the newspaper reports.
Germany extends furloughs
The German government extends its program of financial help for workers affected by the pandemic through the end of 2021, and has also extended financial aid to small- and medium-sized companies through the end of 2020, the BBC reports. The aid is viewed as instrumental in helping curb the effects of the economic crisis in the country.
US consumers spent in July, but at slower pace
U.S. consumer spending grew moderately in July, up a seasonally adjusted 1.9% from June, The Wall Street Journal reports. Personal income, meanwhile, grew 0.4%, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. July’s rates mark a slowdown compared to May and June, when consumer spending “picked up strongly,” according to the article.
AHLA analysis details first six months of pandemic
The “State of the Hotel Industry” report from the American Hotel & Lodging Association shows that four out of 10 hotel employees in the U.S. are still out of work; nearly 65% of hotels remain at or below 50% occupancy; consumer travel is at an all-time low, with only 33% of Americans saying they have taken an overnight leisure trip since March; and urban hotels are suffering the most with only 38% occupancy.
Dominican Republic relaxes travel policies
The Dominican Republic announces its new “Responsible Tourism Recovery Plan,” slated to go into effect 15 September, will no longer require travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, and mass testing at the airport will change to randomized testing, as reported by Travel and Leisure. Tourists visiting hotels will be offered a temporary, free travel assistance plan that covers general emergencies and COVID-19 testing.
Global economy outlook improves
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development upgrades its 2020 outlook, now projecting the global economy will shrink 4.5% for the year, after earlier projections of a 6% contraction, Bloomberg reports.
“The better view reflects the strong economic pickup in recent months and the vast injection of public resources,” the news agency reports. “The U.S. unemployment rate fell more than forecast in August, while China this week reported positive retail and industrial-production data.”
US retail sales down in August
Retail sales in the United States declined in August, indicating the end of expanded unemployment benefits is dragging down the economy, Reuters reports. Consumer spending makes up roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and more than 29.6 million people are on unemployment. Economists fear it could get substantially worse if Congress is unable to pass a new stimulus package soon.
US hotel KPIs tick up in August
Key performance indicators for U.S. hotels improved slightly in August compared to July, according to STR, parent company of HNN. Occupancy was down 31.7% year over year to 48.6%, while average daily rate was down 22.8% to $102.46, and RevPAR was down 47.3% to $49.83. Despite the month-to-month improvement, that still represents the worst occupancy level on record for an August.
US reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths
The United States records 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, outpacing earlier forecasts. USA Today reports many health experts worry more lives are at risk as the country approaches flu season.
Boris Johnson imposes new UK restrictions
Following more infection outbreaks across the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a new series of restrictions including a curfew for pubs and restaurants, mandatory masks for taxi passengers, shop assistants and hospitality staff, and work-from-home requirements, in addition to limitations on gathering sizes. The Independent reports these “new laws will require hospitality and retail businesses ensure their customers comply with restrictions, and fines for breaching the ‘rule of six’ limit on social gatherings or failing to wear a face mask will be doubled from £100 to £200 ($127 to $254).”
The country records 4,926 new COVID-19 infections, the largest daily jump since 7 May.
UK announces new job-support program
U.K. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak announces a new Job Support Scheme, to go into effect for six months beginning 1 November, which will “directly top up the wages of employees working fewer hours due to suppressed business demand,” according to CNBC. The program replaces the country’s furlough plan, expiring in October.
Global virus death toll tops 1 million
Johns Hopkins University data shows the global death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic has passed the 1 million mark, with deaths in the U.S., Brazil and India making up nearly 50% of the total, according to BBC.
UK GDP continues to shrink
Gross domestic product in the U.K. shrank by 19.8% in the quarter between June and September, according to the U.K. Office for National Statistics. The drop is an improvement on the forecast of a decline of 20.4%, but still the largest quarterly contraction in the U.K. economy since 1955, when quarterly records began.
President Trump announces he has COVID-19
Overnight, President Donald Trump tweets that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus. NPR reports the president will continue carrying out his duties while receiving treatment.
Australia, New Zealand set up travel bubble
Australia announces a one-way travel corridor with New Zealand, eliminating the 14-day quarantine for those traveling from New Zealand to a limited number of Australian destinations, including New South Wales and the Northern Territory. CNN reports New Zealanders who haven’t been in a coronavirus hotspot within the last 14 days will be allowed to arrive in Australia without having to self-quarantine. However, those New Zealanders will have to self-isolate upon their return to their home country. The corridor is set to go into effect 16 October.
US jobs recovery slows
Numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor show that while employers added 661,000 jobs in September, the pace is slowing down. The Wall Street Journal reports September was the first month since April in which net hiring fell below 1 million. Unemployment fell to 7.9% in September from 8.4% in August, but the drop partially indicated an increase in permanent layoffs and people leaving the labor force.
US stimulus bill faces uncertainty
President Trump Tweets that he instructed Congressional leaders to halt negotiations on a second stimulus package until after the election, then later backtracked, calling on Congress to pass some additional assistance, including additional direct checks to Americans. According to The Wall Street Journal, the mixed messages from the President came after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that without additional government support measures, the U.S. could face “tragic” risks.
Global stocks reach highs, driven by Asia
Asian stocks drove a global five-week high, bolstered by China’s Mid-Autumn Festival and investor optimism, according to Reuters. But investors remain concerned about rising COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and Europe. European stocks and U.S. stock futures increased 0.2% while MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan grew 1% to two-and-half-year highs, led by a 3% gain in Chinese blue chips as well as a 2.2% increase in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index.