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COVID-19: The hit Austin's hotels took in 2020, and the outlook for 2021

The Austin Hotel and Lodging Association estimates 80% of hotel workers were out of work during the peak of the pandemic. But there is optimism for 2021.

Luis de Leon

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While many industries were greatly impacted by the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's no secret that the hotel and lodging industry took a big hit. 

"At the peak of our distress here locally, we estimate about 80% of the team members that work in the hotel industry were out of work," said Joe Bolash, the chairperson of the Austin Hotel and Lodging Association, and also the general manager of the Hilton in Downtown Austin. 

According to a survey of members conducted by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) from May 12-14 in 2020, nearly nine out of 10 hotels have laid off or furloughed staff, while only about one-third have been able to rehire any staff.

But with several companies distributing a vaccine for COVID-19, there's optimism for the rest of 2021 with leisure travel starting to make a comeback, and some new hotels finally expecting to open after much delay. 

But it's first important to understand what 2020 was like for the industry. 

Credit: Luis de Leon
A sign requiring customers to wear face coverings at the Westin in downtown Austin.