Philadelphia hospitality industry upended by coronavirus

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The hospitality industry in Philadelphia is taking a hit as coronavirus fears cripple travel plans.

"I am seeing some hotels that were running at 90 percent occupancy, they're now down to 30," said Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association. "Cancellations are happening by the hour, every hour, things seem to change."

The hotel industry in Philadelphia brings in about $342 million in tax revenue. Grose said that number will get slashed, especially now that two conventions scheduled in the coming weeks abruptly canceled. Grose said there is a deep concern over the impact on employees.

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"When that happens, that means people aren't working," said Grose. "They're not able to receive the tip income that they would normally receive. There's less rooms to clean, there's less people in the restaurant and it's having an impact on our front line staff."

The National Air Transport Association estimates $63 to $113 billion in lost revenue. Airlines are increasing flexibility and taking "emergency measures" to slash costs.

"I think it's being with people you don't know in an enclosed place like an airplane, a lobby, a restaurant and you're not home you don't have the possibility to just stay home," said Iris Hami, CFO of Gil Travel Group.

Iris Hami says her travel agency has lost 80 percent of business for March and April due to trip cancellations. Her company has been around for 48 years and she says she's seen a lot, but nothing like this.

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"We've gone through wars, through other political situations, the closest that I've seen is 9/11," said Hami. "But even that felt like it had a finite end, where this doesn't."
And on the heels of Philadelphia officials canceling the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the impacts are trickling down to local bars and restaurants.

McGillin's Olde Ale House lies a block from the parade route and says there will be an overall dramatic loss in revenue.

"We expect our business to be off dramatically but it's the reality of the times," said Owner and Manager Christopher Mullins Jr.

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Mullins added that he's had 80% of private parties cancel this month due to health concerns. He says there's no way to make up the revenue and ultimately, it negatively impacts employees.

"A lot of those employees are living day to day so when you have decrease in business like that, that clearly may impact, you know, what they're taking home at night."
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