Philadelphia tourism takes billion dollar hit during COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Hotels in Center City at this point in the year should be buzzing with activity, but most sit quiet and empty due to COVID-19.

"About this time of year we are normally running about 90%. The few hotels that are remaining open are well under 10%," said Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association executive director Ed Grose.

Grose says that sharp contrast IS because of COVID-19, and business is unlike anything the local economy has seen in years.

"We're looking at a negative impact that is equal to nine times the amount that we saw from 9/11," said Grose.

The dollar figure is in the neighborhood of $1.3 billion dollars in lost revenue just between March and April.

That loss impacting some 70,000 workers in the hospitality industry outside just hotel employees: workers include suppliers to hotels, taxis drivers, and gift shop employees.

Action News has learned Philadelphia is not alone in this financial struggle. 2017 U.S. Census data shows Philadelphia County used to generate more than $39 million roughly per month.

Atlantic County, home to casinos is nearly $200 million per month in the hole. Back in Philadelphia, the tourism industry is also taking a major hit in events.

"We've lost over 250 pieces of business," said Julie Coker, president, and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Vistors Bureau.

Coker says those cancellations of events between March through September has had a rippling effect on visitors to the city. It also has translated to roughly $230 million in losses to the local economy.

"We are laser-focused on recovery. We definitely are shifting to perseverance, hope, and love during the time of recovery just to be encouraging to our members as well as our meeting planners," Coke added.

Part of the recovery plan new is encouraging people to reschedule events instead of just canceling them.

There is a fund for out of work hospitality employees the public can donate to, the GPHA COVID-19 Hospitality Workers Relief Fund.
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