DC area 2nd-hardest hit by lack of business travel

While leisure travel bookings by vacationers have shown resilience this year, business travel has not bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, and that is costing the D.C. region billions.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association ranks the D.C. metro second-hardest hit by lack of business travelers. It estimates area hotels will end this year with nearly $2.4 billion less in hotel business travel revenue than 2019, an 86.5% drop. New York is forecast to end the year with an 88.4% drop in hotel business travel revenue from 2019, a $4 billion deficit.

AHLA projects the U.S. hotel industry will end 2021 down more than $59 billion in business travel revenue compared to 2019. The industry saw $49 billion in lost business travel revenue in 2020.

A recent AHLA survey found that most business travelers are now canceling, reducing and postponing trips amid rising COVID-19 cases. The trade group does not expect business travel revenue to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

“While some industries have started rebounding from the pandemic, this report is a sobering reminder that hotels and hotel employees are still struggling,” said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers. “Business travel is critical to our industry’s viability, especially in the fall and winter months when leisure travel normally begins to decline.”

The hotel industry is still short 500,000 jobs compared to 2019.

Among states, California and Florida are expected to be hardest hit by the drop in hotel business travel revenue, down 74% and 61% respectively.

Below are the 10 metro areas AHLA expects to suffer the greatest business travel hotel revenue losses in 2021:

(Courtesy: American Hotel & Lodging Association)

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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