Government orders and public health recommendations to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak sparked a steep decline in foot traffic at U.S. hotels and airports. This plays further into revised forecasts for a devastating 2020 for the travel industry.
Social distancing is a precautionary measure against coronavirus, but it is also taking a hit on the global economy. A new report shows just how much early March foot traffic dwindled at what are normally some of the busiest places in the U.S.
Airports and hotels have seen some of the biggest drops in foot traffic as a result of coronavirus fears, according to analytics platform Placer.ai.
The Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel saw a 70 percent drop in foot traffic between the end of February and the second week of March. Foot traffic at a DoubleTree hotel at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport declined nearly 65 percent in the same timeframe. Traffic at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco and the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel was down 60 percent and 51 percent, respectively.
Hotel occupancy levels dropped severely in recent weeks, as business and leisure travelers stay home due to the growing coronavirus crisis. Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said last week business at the world’s largest hotel company is down 75 percent. Real estate firm CBRE Tuesday revised its 2020 U.S. hotel outlook and now expects revenue per available room, the industry’s leading performance metric, to decline 37 percent for the year.
“The effect of coronavirus is going to leave a lasting impression on travel, both domestic and international,” Placer.ai spokesperson Ethan Chernofsky said. “Leaving aside the major economic value that international tourism brings across the globe, the loss of national conferences and business travel is creating significant losses across the country. A key question that brands in the travel sector need to be focusing on is what can they be doing today to minimize the time it takes to get people traveling again.”
But hospitality isn’t the only sector feeling the early business effects of social distancing.
John F. Kennedy International Airport had the biggest decline in foot traffic of all U.S. airports in the Placer.ai study. The airport, New York City’s busiest, had a nearly 42 percent foot traffic drop from late February to the second week in March. San Francisco International had a 41 percent decline, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport rounded out the top three with a nearly 37 percent drop.
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Photo credit: Coronavirus fears severely curbed foot traffic at U.S. hotels and airports in early March, according to a Placer.ai report. Angelo DeSantis / Wikimedia