NYC hotels left reeling by pandemic call for relief

Fall is typically the best time of year for tourism in New York City, but this year the hotel and hospitality industry has been left reeling by the pandemic.

"It's been rough, to put it mildly, very mildly," said Vijay Dandapani, CEO of the Hotel Association in New York City.

With tourism at a low across the city, many hotels are finding themselves staring down closure. The Hilton in Times Square, two Courtyard Marriott Hotels in Manhattan, and the Omni Berkshire Place in Midtown have all announced plans to close for good.

"The industry seeing the kind of crisis that combines all previous crisis together don't amount to how bad this one is," Dandapani said.

Hilton Times Square to close as coronavirus devastates tourism

According to Dandapani, 80 percent of the hotel workforce has been laid off since the pandemic started in March. The Hotel Association represents 300 hotels in the city and of those, 200 have closed either temporarily or permanently.

"It's a massive drop off in employment, in particular, that's a direct consequence of business dropping off by 85 percent when the New York pause button was hit on March 22nd," Dandapani said.

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The absence of foreign and business travelers has decimated the industry. 

Dandapani says he wants the Governor to lift some restrictions and allow hotels to open with more guests, comparing the hotel crisis to the financial suffering restaurants are facing.

Hotel owners say they are also facing unpaid mortgages and unpaid property taxes and want some relief from the state. However, Governor Cuomo's office says it cannot lift the restrictions yet, due to fears of a resurgence of the virus.