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Europe’s Recovery From the Last Recession

Major economies in Europe, including the U.K. and those in the Eurozone, recently confirmed what we already suspected. Economies across the continent have entered an economic recession because of the impact of COVID-19—an impact that has been devastating for the hospitality industry.

The short-term effects of the COVID-19 recession are evident as hotel demand across Europe was down 55.3% for the August year-to-date period. However, even with negative projections in place, the depth of the long-term impact remains in question.

To help develop answers, we look back at a lesser crisis, which may point to how hotel markets will recover in the coming years. The 2007-08 global financial crisis (GFC), caused by the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble, impacted financial institutions globally and led to the subprime mortgage crisis, European debt crisis and the Great Recession. During the Great Recession, the global economy witnessed its steepest declines since the Great Depression.

For this analysis, we indexed revenue per available room (RevPAR) to 2007 for various key markets across Europe. This can be used to understand how markets were impacted in the short-term during the crisis, in the aftermath of the crisis and even further in the long-term to understand when markets recovered.

So how did hotel markets around Europe react?

London weathered the storm

London showed strong fundamentals and proved to be resilient. In fact, RevPAR increased in 2008 before dipping slightly in 2009 but did not look back from there with strong year-over-year growth through 2019.

Hotel demand in the U.K. capital is currently at an all-time low as the market suffers due to a reliance on international travel, which is nearly non-existent due to restrictions and lockdown measures. However, once international travel does return, we can perhaps expect a quicker long-term recovery in London as the city has proven it can weather a storm.

German markets dipped but recovered quickly

While other countries in Europe were being pulled further into crisis, Germany benefitted from its economic strength even during the crisis as well as being a mostly domestic market, which allowed hotel performance to recover quicker than others in Europe.

Economically, Germany remains a powerhouse in Europe, and its large domestic market has helped in boosting demand relative to other countries in Europe during this COVID period, so some optimism in a recovery can be taken regarding German markets.

Markets in weaker economies were more impacted

By 2009, hotels in Madrid and Dublin were among the most impacted. In the latter part of 2009, Spain and Ireland went through a debt crisis lasting several years leading to subdued economic growth in both countries as well as an increase in unemployment in Spain.

RevPAR in Madrid stagnated in the subsequent years following the GFC, and five years on from the crisis in 2012, RevPAR was almost 30% lower than pre-crisis levels. As the capital of Spain, Madrid sees substantial demand coming in the domestic corporate and leisure segment. A strong run of six consecutive years of RevPAR growth began in 2014 as Madrid benefitted from an increase in international arrivals and from hosting high-profile events, including the Champions League Final and COP 25 in 2019.

Madrid has stronger fundamentals and is more diversified than it was back in 2008, however, it will need to rely on a return of these lucrative segments to recover to pre-COVID levels.

RevPAR in Dublin five years on from the crisis in 2012 was just over 20% lower than it was pre-GFC as Ireland battled with suppressed economic growth domestically. Suppressed economic growth around the world impacted Dublin also as it is a market reliant on visitors from overseas.

RevPAR increased for eight years consecutively from 2011 through to 2018 as Dublin benefitted from substantial increases in international arrivals around the world, from the U.S. in particular, as well as close to no supply growth.

Future supply growth is expected to rise substantially as Dublin boasts a large pipeline of projects to enter the market. How Dublin responds to a current lack of demand as well as absorbing this new supply will be telling of its recovery. Dublin remains an attractive market for international visitors, and with plenty of new hotel offerings, it may recover from this current crisis quicker than it did during the GFC.


COVID-19 is a different crisis than what hotels faced during the GFC, as restrictions on travel and lockdown measures are severely impacting hotel demand. The GFC impacted performance, at a lesser rate, but key markets across Europe all eventually recovered. Some recovered faster than others due to a stronger economy or being domestic markets.

For markets to begin recovery, the threat of COVID-19 needs to be significantly mitigated. Once that happens, and destinations can begin to welcome to travellers to their hotels, we will see recoveries at different paces

Pandemic doesn’t dampen long-term hope in Israel

The pandemic has heavily hit the Israeli tourism sector, but the country’s hotels are likely to recover sooner than those in other countries of the Middle East.

TEL AVIV—The Israeli hotel industry was set for fast growth in the coming years on the back of record-breaking tourist flow in 2019, and sources believe the pandemic has slowed, but not stopped, that success story.

Israel hosted a record number of tourists in 2019, with around 4.55 million people visiting the country, compared to 4.1 million visitors in 2018 and 3.6 million in 2017, said the Israeli Tourism Ministry. Before the spread of COVID-19, that organization predicted an estimated 5 million foreign arrivals were due to come in 2020.

The pandemic has turned the tables, and some hoteliers are very stark in their analyses.

“The effect is worse than all the wars and operations Israel had gone through during the previous 15 years, combined,” said Avi Zak, managing partner of Drisco Hotel Tel Aviv.

“We went from nearly 100% occupancy to 0% in three to four days between 11 to 15 March and until the beginning of June this year. The overall occupancy of 2020 will be 30% to 50% lower than projected before the COVID-19 crisis.”

Tali Tenenbaum, VP of marketing at the Israel Hotel Association, said hoteliers have taken a massive hit.

“The hotel industry is the first to be hit and the last to recover,” she said. “The injury to the industry is fatal. Only about 63% of hotels have reopened since May 2020. In cities based on foreign tourism such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Nazareth and Tiberius, the situation is even more difficult.”

Some managers preferred not to open their hotels, while others adjusted pricing.

“We have adjusted the rates and product to the local Israeli market, and since opening, we maintain a high level of occupancy at relatively affordable rates,” Zak said.

The demand environment remains week, said Estelle Hock, sales analyst lead and guest relations manager at Israeli-owned Atlas Hotels, which has 16 hotels in the country.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the hotels in Israel were closed for several months at the beginning of the pandemic. Many are still closed as non-Israelis tourists are not allowed to visit Israel,” she said.

Between January and July 2020, average occupancy in Tel Aviv amounted to 34.5%, down 55% year over year, according to data from STR, the parent company of Hotel News Now.

For the same period, the city’s average daily rate fell 29.9% to 672.50 ($194.69) Israel new shekel, and revenue per available room fell 68.5% to 231.70 ($67.08) new shekel.

Weighing the advantages
On 16 August, the Israeli government approved a bailout package for hotels at the cost of 300 million Israeli new shekels ($88 million), to be distributed in the form of grants.

Eligibility for those grants and amounts paid to each hotel is determined on each hotel’s slump in revenue compared with corresponding periods in previous years, the tourism ministry said.

Simon Hulten, the senior associate at business advisory HVS London, sees government interventions in Israeli as vital.

“The bailout package, including the cancellation of city tax, a furlough scheme which runs until June 2021, as well as grants to assist with running costs until next June, (is), as far as I know, more extensive than many other countries in Europe and will without a doubt be a key pillar to frame and assist existing hotels to stay afloat,” he said.

He said many countries and markets with less reliance on international demand and air travel had experienced stronger recoveries during the summer and would probably continue to do so going forward. That includes Israel, with more than 50% of its overnight demand deriving from domestic tourism, a percentage higher than many other countries in the Mediterranean region.

Sources said the bailout package will help hoteliers to make it through. Hulten said he anticipates the hotel industry would achieve pre-crisis performance around 2024.

The bailout package may be altered the longer the battle against COVID-19 lasts, said Tenenbaum, who added the pandemic appears to be a marathon, rather than a rally.

She said that when the dedicated grant was formulated in June, it was intended to help pay hotels’ fixed expenses on the assumption that towards the end of the year, inbound tourism would have recovered.

“No one imagined that the crisis would continue to hit us during 2021, and hotels will be closed again, so the support, which we hope will be received soon, does not compensate for the long period,” Tenenbaum said, who added the industry needed to further lobby government.

Some hoteliers, though, are not counting on much state aid.

“The bailout package is something we are not looking at or looking for. We work harder now to pay all our debts and be able to provide our employees with as many jobs as possible. If we got something, I would be highly surprised. I assume that we will see some kind of improvement in one year and return to 2019 numbers in 2022,” the Drisco Hotel Tel Aviv’s Zak said.

Tenenbaum said despite the pandemic’s effect on investment attractiveness, in the last month new hotels have launched.

She said Israeli hoteliers are very skilled at dealing with crises and unprecedented challenges.

“Israel’s hoteliers have an exceptional experience on how to thrive in periods of uncertainty, perhaps more than any other country, and have demonstrated the value of being agile and successful in challenging environments,” she said.

“Although this crisis is unprecedented, this mindset and the ability to adapt to new circumstances are definitely in Israel’s favor when looking at potential recovery curves,” Hulten added.


Reopening Costa Rica: Hotel Recovery in the New Normal

Supported by a WTTC Safe Travel Stamp, Costa Rica’s borders have slowly re-opened to international tourism. We chat to hotel operators on the ground about the fresh protocols, and the path to recovery.— Costa Rica Tourism Board

As the Covid-19 health crisis continues to impact the world, the question of how to re-open borders to international visitors remains the pressing focus for the global tourism sector.

While many nations are still facing lockdowns and restrictions, some have begun to re-open their borders following successful quarantine periods.

Together with its Latin American neighbors, Costa Rica was forced to temporarily close its borders back in March this year.

As a trending international destination – increasingly popular for its vibrant culture, tropical Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, and innovative approach to sustainable tourism – Costa Rica’s local industry felt the lockdown acutely, not least of all its hotel operators.

Thankfully, supported by a range of new health and safety protocols, Costa Rica is slowly welcoming back its international visitors. The nation recently received a World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel Stamp, which covers over 16 new industry-wide safety protocols.

In July, Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura Sancho announced a phased re-opening to international air traffic, with flights initially from the EU, UK and Canada permitted to return as of August 1.

On August 19, this list was expanded to include Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), South America (Uruguay), and Asia (citizens and residents of Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, and the People’s Republic of China).

As of September 1, residents of nine US states – Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington D.C. –  were permitted to enter Costa Rica. On September 15, residents of three more states – Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania – will be added to the list.

Travelers to Costa Rica are also now able to arrive on international health insurance policies (as well as two local options), provided they cover sufficiently for Covid-19. Encouraging news for travelers, and a promising sign of things to come for the local industry.


And though an impending arrival of English, European and Canadian visitors this month and beyond marks a promising addition, hotel operators are viewing the August 1 lift as the first of many ‘baby steps’ towards pre-Covid occupancy levels.

“Right now, national tourism is rising rapidly,” says Montserrat Quesada, Marketing Coordinator at Costa Rica’s El Mangroove Hotel on Panama Beach.

“On the other hand, international tourism will probably take longer, since there is still lots of uncertainty.”

According to General Manager of The Intercontinental Hotel Costa Rica, Ricardo Menendez, the prompt >re-opening of key flight corridors in the region – particularly with the U.S. – is the next vital step for the industry’s resurgence.

Costa Rica saw 3.14 million visitors in 2019, with 53 percent coming from the U.S.

“For demand to reactivate it’s important that the borders with the United States and Latin America are opened, since they are our main markets,” says Menendez.

“These have been very challenging months,” he adds, “with a new reality.”


In this new reality safety comes first. Hotel health and safety protocols have become central to re-building the industry, keeping guests healthy and safe while bolstering consumer confidence.

Hotels like El Mangroove and The Intercontinental continue to work energetically alongside the government, Costa Rica Tourism Board and Ministry of Health on every mandated rule and regulation in preparation for the foreign visitors to come.

“During the past few months, while the hotel was closed, our team worked rigorously to implement all safety protocols, make all necessary changes, and train staff to be ready to welcome guests back,” says Quesada.

“We’ve implemented measures such as temperature checks at check in, luggage disinfection, sanitizing stations throughout the properties, social distancing measures at restaurants and event spaces, and deep cleaning of every room.”

Investing in technology and supplies to guarantee the wellbeing of its future guests, The Intercontinental has installed thermographic cameras for taking temperature, alcohol dispensers in all areas including entrances, restaurants, lounges and elevators, and implemented thorough staff training sessions, supported by the Cleveland Clinic and Ecolab.

Along with mandated facemask usage, and clear social distancing signage, both operators see this raft of measures as something that’ll likely exist for the long haul.

Meanwhile, local airports are doing their part to maintain vigilance against the spread, with San José’s Juan Santamaría International (SJO) and Liberia’s Daniel Oduber (LIR) airports, continuing to follow strict safety and cleaning protocols.


The fresh industry protocols mark a significant shift for the sector, all underscored and according to a recent paper by Costa Rica Tourism and the Ministry of Health.

As well as general guest regulation, the protocols highlight specific rules for venues, PCOs, vendors and suppliers as well as hotels with meeting spaces – while events can happen again as per the pre-Covid era, enhanced procedures will be in place to ensure the safety of attending guests, including a range of social distancing measures for venue seating configurations and all banquet-style sit-down setups.

Trade fairs will again be able to take place, but with a format allowing for one person at a time, by appointment, and a maximum of two exhibitors at each booth.

While it’s great news that conferences and meetings will again be welcome back at Costa Rica’s hotels, there’s a good chance this transition back from ‘virtual to tangible’ is going to eventuate over an extended period, with Zoom-style formats likely to last the distance, regardless of loosened Covid regulations.

Quesada agrees: “We think that virtual and hybrid events will keep standing out for large meetings, adding that ‘measures such as deep cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection procedures and the use of personal protection equipment will be kept in the long run.’”

In the event that guests or staff are exposed to the virus – or suspected to have been exposed during their stay at the hotel – they’ll be required to undergo a medical assessment through, and comply with the broader directives of the Costa Rican Ministry of Health.


Though it might still be closed to vital markets, the August 1 re-opening can only be seen as a promising step in the right direction.

“We hope to see an increase in international travel towards the end of the year, and hopefully a reactivation on the groups and incentives business for the second half of 2021,” says Quesada.

“U.S. travelers have always been one of our top visitors, so in a post-Covid environment we expect to see them traveling to Costa Rica, hopefully as much as before Covid,” adds Menendez.

As for the travelers’ end, visitors permitted to enter Costa Rica will need to provide a negative PCR test upon arrival, as well as a completed online Health Pass. In a fluid situation, against a shifting backdrop, Costa Rica is leading the way to recovery in the post-pandemic world: a template for others in the region to follow.

“We are striving to ensure guest safety and tranquility,” says Quesada, “and we are thrilled to see guests coming back.”


France: A less pessimistic outlook for 2020 thanks to the summer season but caution for the end of the year

After a disastrous start of the year marked by the worst recession since the WWII, the French economy’s 2020 growth outlook has now slightly improved. The upturn in economic activity since May has been stronger than expected and it continued during the summer vacations.

The U.S On Travel 'Red List' Of 16 Countries Issued By France

The beginning of this normalization has been observed through macroeconomic aggregates such as household consumption of goods, but also through sectoral data, particularly those relating to the hotel and restaurant industry. In this context, high-frequency indicators in our possession suggest that France should record the strongest growth in its history in the third quarter. Moreover, the rebound is likely to be stronger than in many of our European neighbors. Although this phenomenon is partly the result of an arithmetic mechanism, it also reflects a greater resilience in the tourism sector during this summer. However, it should also be noted that the pace of normalization slowed in August.Moreover, we believe that we are now entering a pivotal period where the risks of stagnation or even a downturn in economic activity are numerous, and, therefore, there is a need for caution for the end of the year.


The Covid-19 crisis has paralyzed economic activity in France, so that after a 0.2% fall in quarterly GDP in Q4 2019, the negative spiral intensified with a contraction of 5.9% in Q1 2020 and 13.8% in Q2, the worst sequence ever recorded.

Quarterly evolution of French GDP


Some sectors have been harder hit, specifically in industry, those producing mobility equipment – such as aeronautics and automobiles. Within services, all sectors of the tourism ecosystem have been hardly hit – particularly transport, restaurants and accommodation, whose activity has historically evolved in strong correlation with overall economic activity.




Faced with this unprecedented shock, the public authorities intervened massively and chose to protect household purchasing power as a priority. In this respect, a study3 published by the OFCE showed that, over the eight weeks of lockdown, “households and individual entrepreneurs (as well as the voluntary sector) suffered a loss of income of 14 billion euros4”. Nevertheless, this loss of household income was more than compensated by a drop in spending leading to a significant savings surplus (+75 billion euros as of July 5). In a context where the health situation has improved (lower number of hospitalizations and deaths, increase in tests, access to masks, etc.), a normalization of activity was achieved from May onwards. The Bank of France5’s economic survey, published on September 14, also underlined that, for the month of August, the loss of GDP over a typical week of activity was 5% compared to the pre-crisis level (compared to -27% in April).



As in many developed countries, the normalization in activity levels, faster than initially expected, is mainly due to the rebound in household consumption of goods. In France, the latest figures from INSEE6 showed that in July 2020, “household consumption spending on goods increased slightly (+0.5% in volume compared to June) after a strong increase in May and June (+35.5% and +10.3% respectively)”. In this context, in July, household spending on goods almost returned to the level of November 2019.



This phenomenon has been encouraged by the aforementioned accumulation of a savings surplus, by a catch-up effect that adds up to state aid intended to stimulate demand (particularly in the automobile sector7), and a desire to profit fully from the summer season, which was also reflected in tourism-related spending. France was able to benefit above all from the resilience of its domestic market, including with regards to its tourism industry. This facilitated its rebound relative to its neighbors, particularly those in Southern Europe (whose exports and tourism depend heavily on Northern European countries), but also those in Northern Europe (which are generally more internationally oriented). In July and August, France therefore took the lead in Europe in terms of the recovery of tourist numbers.




Economic activity continued to grow in August, but the pace of growth has slowed compared to previous months, as shown by the monthly composite index developed by Markit9, which reached 51.610 in August, a three-month low. Regarding the services sector, the report noted that “underlying data indicated that a rebound in the Hotel & Restaurants sub-sector was partially offset by declines in other areas, including Post & Telecommunications and Renting & Business Activities.”

Even when households were taking summer breaks, particularly in areas where resort tourism is important, the momentum slowed sharply during August.



It even reversed at the end of the month, in response to renewed concern about the sanitary situation (particularly with the Bouches-du-Rhône and Paris regions becoming a “red zone”) and the sluggish demand observed by companies in many services’ sectors. At the same time, in the manufacturing sector, the Markit index fell back below the 50 threshold, indicating a contraction.

In this respect, we can assume that activity in the automotive sector has stagnated due to the decline in new car registrations. According to the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers (CCFA), in August11 the French market for new passenger cars fell by 19.8% in gross terms compared to August 2019. This decline is partly due to unfavorable base effects (solid basis for comparison in August 2019) but also reflects a backlash after the excellent figures in July, boosted by the end of the “cash for clunkers” scheme.

Even though the overall rebound in activity lost momentum in August, the positive base effect accumulated since the end of the second quarter still implies that French growth will spring back very strongly in the third quarter. More specifically, its rate of growth will be the highest ever recorded, and probably well above the average for the euro zone. In this context, the government should revise upwards its growth forecast for 2020, currently set at -11%. A figure close to the Bloomberg consensus (i.e. around -10%) seems appropriate to consider the potential turbulences that could occur in Q4.




As illustrated by the decline in tourist activity since mid-August, we are entering a pivotal period where businesses will have to take the lead. This observation is equally valid for the hotel industry, where 65% of the annual turnover is generated during the week (Monday to Thursday), mainly by business customers, and for which September usually marks a peak in activity. This reality is reinforced by the recent evolution of the sanitary context, as France and some of its key territories are once again subject to restrictions (such as a fourteen-day mandatory isolation upon return) imposed by various European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium or Germany. It should also be pointed out that national measures, which could go as far as a localized lockdown, would likely penalize activity very significantly. The risk would be greater if two of the regions that are currently most affected by the virus, namely PACA and Ile de France, were to be subject to restrictions.

Indeed, these regions account for more than 35% of national GDP and for more than half of the turnover of the hotel and restaurant industry. At the same time, even if the government decided to implement an ambitious €100 billion recovery plan, its new effects are not expected to be felt until 2021, which raises fears of a period of uncertainty for the end of the year. At the same time, numerous bankruptcies are already expected for the month of October. As Les Echos12 pointed out, “since August 24, companies that cannot pay their invoices have 45 days to declare themselves in suspension of payments at the Commercial Court”, which should result in a rise in business failures starting in October. This phenomenon could then weigh on household morale and put a brake on consumption.

Finally, on a geopolitical level, the environment will be particularly unfavorable. Indeed, the latest negotiations between Europe and the United Kingdom suggest that the “Hard Brexit” scenario remains credible. On the other side of the Atlantic, the uncertainties surrounding the November 3 elections will increase, especially since various scenarios synonymous with instability of the international trade system cannot be ruled out. These factors, combined with a lack of visibility on the post-Covid recovery, could lead companies to delay their investments and hiring decisions, thus amplifying the phenomenon of stagnation or even relapse. The economy, as well, will have to fight against the risk of a second wave.


UNWTO Highlights Potential Of Domestic Tourism To Help Drive Economic Recovery In Destinations Worldwide

As restrictions on travel begin to ease globally, destinations around the world are focusing on growing domestic tourism, with many offering incentives to encourage people to explore their own countries. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), with domestic tourism set to return faster than international travel, this represents an opportunity for both developed and developing countries to recover from the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognizing the importance of domestic tourism, the United Nations specialized agency has released the third of its Tourism and COVID-19 Briefing Notes, -Understanding Domestic Tourism and Seizing its Opportunities.- UNWTO data shows that in 2018, around 9 billion domestic tourism trips were made worldwide – six times the number of international tourist arrivals (1.4 billion in 2018). The publication identifies ways in which destinations around the world are taking proactive steps to grow domestic tourism, from offering bonus holidays for workers to providing vouchers and other incentives to people travelling in their own countries.

Domestic tourism to drive recovery

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “UNWTO expects domestic tourism to return faster and stronger than international travel. Given the size of domestic tourism, this will help many destinations recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, while at the same time safeguarding jobs, protecting livelihoods and allowing the social benefits tourism offers to also return.”

The briefing note also shows that, in most destinations, domestic tourism generates higher revenues than international tourism. In OECD nations, domestic tourism accounts for 75% of total tourism expenditure, while in the European Union, domestic tourism expenditure is 1.8 times higher than inbound tourism expenditure. Globally, the largest domestic tourism markets in terms of expenditure are the United States with nearly US$ 1 trillion, Germany with US$ 249 billion, Japan US$ 201 billion, the United Kingdom with US$ 154 billion and Mexico with US$ 139 billion.

Initiatives to boost domestic tourism

Given the value of domestic tourism and current trends, increasing numbers of countries are taking steps to grow their markets, UNWTO reports. This new Briefing Note provides case studies of initiatives designed to stimulate domestic demand. These include initiatives focused on marketing and promotion as well as financial incentives. Examples of countries taking targeted steps to boost domestic tourist numbers include:

  • In Italy, the Bonus Vacanze initiative offers families with incomes of up to EUR 40,000 contributions of up to EUR 500 to spend in domestic tourism accommodation.
  • Malaysia allocated US$113 million worth of travel discount vouchers as well as personal tax relief of up to US$227 for expenditure related to domestic tourism.
  • Costa Rica moved all holidays of 2020 and 2021 to Mondays for Costa Ricans to enjoy long weekends to travel domestically and to extend their stays.
  • France launched the campaign #CetÉtéJeVisiteLaFrance (‘This Summer, I visit France’) highlighting the diversity of destinations across the country.
  • Argentina announced the creation of an Observatory for Domestic Tourism to provide a better profile of Argentine tourists.
  • Thailand will subsidize 5 million nights of hotel accommodation at 40% of normal room rates for up to five nights.


Global tourism loses $320 billion in first five months of 2020, says UN

More than 120 million jobs at risk from pandemic

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The tourism global industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with $320 billion lost in exports in the first five months of the year and more than 120 million jobs at risk, the U.N. chief said Tuesday.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a policy briefing and video address that tourism is the third-largest export sector of the global economy, behind fuels and chemicals, and in 2019 it accounted for 7% of global trade.

“It employs one in every 10 people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more,” he said.

In addition to boosting economies, “it allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity,” he said.

But the U.N. chief said that in the first five months of 2020, because of the pandemic, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and earnings plummeted.

Guterres said this has been a “major shock” for richer developed nations “but for developing countries, it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries.”

Tourism for some of those countries represents more than 20% of their GDP, he explained.

Sandra Carvao, the U.N. World Tourism Organization’s chief of market intelligence and competitiveness, said the $320 billion in lost exports from January through May is three times what was lost during the year 2009 at the height of the last global financial crisis.

And according to the policy briefing, “export revenues from tourism could fall by $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in 2020” and that “could reduce global GDP by 1.5% to 2.8%.”

In addition to tourism jobs that are at risk, the policy paper said jobs in associated sectors, including food service, that provide employment for 144 million workers worldwide are also at risk.

It stressed that small businesses, “are particularly vulnerable.”

Guterres said tourism “is also a key pillar for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage.”

According to the briefing, some 7% of world tourism relates to wildlife, “a segment growing by 3% annually.”

“The fall in revenues has led to increased poaching and habitat destruction in and around protected areas,” the secretary-general said, “and the closure of many World Heritage sites has deprived communities of vital livelihoods.”

Guterres called for the tourism sector to be rebuilt in a way that is safe for host communities, workers and travelers, and is also “equitable and climate friendly.”

Noting that travel restrictions and border closures still remain though some have been lifted, Carvao said “the recovery will be very much dependent on the evolution of the pandemic and the economic situation.”

“No country has escaped the impact of COVID on tourism,” she said. 


Hotel industry facing historic wave of foreclosures

Vicky Karantzavelou / 20 Aug 2020

WASHINGTON – A new national report shows that the hotel industry is facing a historic wave of foreclosures as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate small business hotel owners and its workforce. Since the beginning of the pandemic the hotel segment has faced a historic number of delinquencies and is the most heavily hit sector of the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market. Nearly 4,000 hotel industry leaders sent an urgent letter to Congress urging immediate action to help hotels avoid foreclosure and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

The report, compiled by Trepp, shows that the percentage of loans that is 30 or more days delinquent is 23.4 percent as of last month—the highest percentage on record. By comparison, the percentage of hotel loans that were 30 or more days delinquent at the end of 2019 was 1.3 percent.

From a financial perspective, the report shows that $20.6 billion in hotel CMBS loans were 30 or more days delinquent as of July, compared to $1.15 billion as of December 2019. The highest volume of delinquent hotel loans during the Great Financial Crisis was $13.5 billion. The current percentage of loans that are delinquent now exceeds the highest level during the Great Financial Crisis by 53 percent.

In the letter sent to Congress today, nearly 4,000 hotel industry leaders implored Congress to swiftly enact the HOPE Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Van Taylor (R-Texas), Al Lawson (D-Fla.), and Andy Barr (R-Ky.), intended to provide assistance to small businesses that operate in the ailing commercial real estate market.

With record low travel demand, thousands of hotels can’t afford to pay their commercial mortgages and are facing foreclosure with the harsh reality of having to close their doors permanently. Tens of thousands of hotel employees will lose their jobs and small business industries that depend on these hotels to drive local tourism and economic activity will likely face a similar fate,” stated Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). “The hotel industry strongly supports The HOPE Act to give struggling small business hotels an opportunity to keep their doors open and avoid foreclosure. We urge the immediate passage of this legislation so America’s tourism industry can survive and recover when the public health crisis subsides.

Rogers said the HOPE Act would address the unique challenges of commercial real estate. It would provide commercial property owners the temporary liquidity they need to keep their doors open in exchange for a preferred equity interest in the property. The legislation would not require any new funding and would utilize existing appropriations from the CARES Act Economic Stabilization Fund.

Other major hotel industry leaders expressed an urgency for Congress to step up to help struggling hotel businesses before it is too late. 

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is decimating the travel and tourism sector – especially small businesses like hotels. That’s why we need Congress to provide hotel owners with real relief that addresses the needs of small businesses with commercial real estate assets,” said Cecil Staton, President and CEO of AAHOA. “Hoteliers are responsible for millions of jobs in communities across the nation, but unless Congress acts, there may not be businesses left for those workers to return to at the end of this pandemic. We are optimistic that the HOPE Act will help hoteliers to address the debt crisis facing the lodging industry, and save good American jobs and small businesses.

Our hotel industry has been devastated by the effects of COVID-19. The financial assistance through the HOPE Preferred Equity lending facility would provide relief and could help stimulate the economic situation in communities throughout the United States,” said Lynette Montoya, President and CEO of the Latino Hotel Association (LHA).

The HOPE Act is essential in helping provide hotel owners with liquidity when we need it most and will serve to help keep businesses open, thus saving local jobs,” said Andy Ingraham, President and CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers (NABHOOD).


Atari Wants to Build Video Game-Themed Hotels

The first hotel will break ground later this year in Phoenix, Arizona. Another is being planned for Las Vegas. They promise to offer Atari-themed lodging, along with lots of video gaming experiences.

Michael Kan – January 28, 2020 

Atari Interactive thinks it has an idea to rekindle interest in the gaming brand: It wants to build Atari-themed hotels.

On Monday, the company announced it was partnering with a design agency to build at least eight video-gamed themed Atari Hotels in the US with the first one slated to break ground in Phoenix, Arizona later this year.

The idea is certainly unconventional, but Atari says the concept will connect with the public at a time when the market for gaming is exploding. Not only will the hotels provide Atari-themed lodging, but also lots of video gaming, including the latest VR and augmented reality experiences. In addition, some of the hotels will be designed to host esports events.

“Together we’ll build a space that will be much more than just a place to stay,” Atari CEO Fred Chesnais said in a statement. “Atari is an iconic global brand that resonates with people of all ages, countries, cultures and ethnic backgrounds and we cannot wait for our fans and their families to enjoy this new hotel concept.”

According to Atari, a design agency called GSD Group and movie producer Napoleon Smith III, who was behind the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot films, will manage the hotels’ designs. Meanwhile, the Arizona-based real estate developer True North Studio will handle actual construction of the first building.

Additional hotels are planned for Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Austin and San Jose. Interested customers can sign up at the website to stay up-to-date on the project.

In the meantime, Atari Interactive is preparing to launch a new retro-themed console. The Atari VCS is slated to start shipping in March starting at $249, and will let you play 100 classic pre-installed Atari games in addition to modern PC games.


WTTC Estimates More Than 100 Million Travel Industry Job Losses

On a somber note, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) research estimated that 100.8 million travel industry jobs could be lost in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

More somber still, the 100.8 million figure increased by more than 30 percent in the last four weeks, according to the WTTC research, which noted that 75 million of those at-risk jobs are in the European Union’s Group of 20 (G20).

The WTTC research also revealed a serious escalation in economic loss to the world economy, rising from $2.1 trillion of gross domestic product (GDP) a month ago to $2.7 trillion today.

The havoc wrecked by the coronavirus has led the loss of more than 1 million jobs a day, WTTC said.

“This is a staggering and deeply worrying change in such a short time,” said WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara. “In just the last month alone, our research shows an increase of 25 million in the number of job losses in travel and tourism. The whole cycle of tourism is being wiped out by the pandemic.”

Broken down by region, the research found that potential job losses could reach 63.4 million, with a GDP loss of more $1 billion in Asia; 13 million job losses and a GDP loss of more than 700 billion in Europe; over 7 million job losses and a GDP loss of almost $53 billion in Africa; 14.1 million job losses with a GDP loss of nearly $800 billion in the Americas; 8.2 million job losses with a GDP loss of more than 680 billion in North America; 4.7 million in job losses with a GDP loss of nearly $84 billion in Latin America; $1.2 million in job losses with a GDP loss of upward of $26 billion in the Caribbean; and $2.6 million job losses with a GDP loss of more than $96 million in the Middle East.

“Travel and tourism is the backbone of the global economy,” Guevara said. “Without it, global economies will struggle to recover in any meaningful way and hundreds of millions of people will suffer enormous financial and mental damage for years to come.”


Local leaders brainstorm on future economic development

KEY members of the TCI’s public and private sectors met to discuss the future of the financial services industry during the second annual Economic Conference last week.

The one-day national conference coordinated by InvestTCI brought scores of interested people to Beaches Resort and Spa in Providenciales. The seminar was held on Friday, November 8, and hosted under the theme, ‘Financial services – Building block of a strong, diversified economy’. During sessions, members of the private sector including bankers, lawyers, company managers, accountants, and Government officials debated various topics, ideas and strategies focused on the growth of the financial services sector.

The keynote address of the conference was delivered by international speaker Lorna Smith, former executive director of BVI Finance and founder and chief executive officer of LGS and Associates. Premier and Minister of Finance Sharlene Cartwright Robinson also brought remarks at the conference and zeroed-in on the Government’s role in fostering a successful industry.

She outlined ongoing initiatives and commitments already made by the Government to strengthen the sector.

“We see the financial services sector as an integral part of the country’s economic advancement,” she said, “where businesses and industries continually feed off of one another, growing larger and larger as the economy grows.

“It is a critical component of a diversified economy; creating a sustainable cycle of overall economic activity.” She stressed that an effective and efficient partnership between the financial services sector, public and private sector entities is vital to the expansion of the TCI’s economy. “The TCI has experienced a real GDP growth rate of 2.5 percent in 2018 and is expected to see a 3.2 percent growth rate in 2019.

“These targets are being achieved in the wake of two major storms in 2017. “Economic growth, for the most part, has been carried by the tourism and hospitality sector for the past 30 plus years.”

Cartwright Robinson underscored the importance of a diverse financial system. She said: “We are ever mindful that a country’s economic health should never be tied to a single industry or market sector. “This conference is an important platform that gathered leading industry players in the financial services sector, the Government and its ministries, departments and agencies, as well as other service providers in the various sectors of the economy.

“We are able to share, learn and collaborate toward the enhancement and advancement of the financial services ecosystem of the TCI, and to ensure that it is one that engenders growth,” the premier added.

In 2018, a Government report prepared by an international consultancy team concluded that the TCI needed to diversify its economy and create more good quality professional employment opportunities for its citizens.
The report also recommended a need for substantial investment in the TCI’s financial services industry, and highlighted how easily the territory could lose what little it has. Following the report, the Government took several steps in keeping with the recommendations of the study.