DC hotels return to pre-pandemic activity

The hotel industry, which was among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, has largely returned to pre-pandemic business, according to the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer, and most of that bounce back has come only in recent months.

Hotel jobs have returned as well.

From March 2020 through the summer of 2021, hotels were hampered by a significant drop in business and leisure travel and restrictions on group gathering sizes. Many otherwise lucrative conventions for D.C. hotels were canceled.

But starting in April, the city said hotel occupancy began surging, on both the return of business and vacation travelers.

Hotel occupancy in D.C. now averages 70%, in line with pre-COVID levels, and hotel room rates have returned to 2019 levels.

As of May, the most recent data available, the accommodations sector in D.C. employed 10,500 people, 88.6% more than in May 2021. Food service now employees almost 46,000 in D.C., a 48.3% increase.

That is good for the city. Hotel sales tax revenue has improved from near zero in April 2020 to just shy of the 2018-2019 average.

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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