More than a year after the start of the pandemic, Portland’s hotel industry is still experiencing low occupancy | Local news

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The city of Portland typically sees a lot of tourists this time of year, but the ongoing pandemic and riots appear to be hurting the local hotel industry.

“In my entire career, after going through several recessions, the 9/11 housing crisis, nothing compares,” said George Schweitzer, general manager of the downtown Benson hotel.

Between March 21 and March 27 of this year compared to the same time last year, there was a 14% drop in hotel occupancy in Portland, according to Travel Oregon. He said the demand was so low that they had to temporarily close their doors in December and January.

“Last month the occupancy rate was around 15%. To put it in perspective, this time in 2019 it was 90%,” said Schweitzer. “I had 170 employees before it all started. We had to lay off everyone except 6 people.”

He said the pandemic coupled with destructive protests are two major factors contributing to the low occupancy rate.

“Last year in July because of COVID and everything that was going on, our occupancy rate jumped to 18%, it was going up and then it was back down,” he said.

Even though they’re not seeing so many people right now, Schweitzer said the future looks bright. Especially since more and more people are getting vaccinated.

“We see promising growth in the summer. Our booking trends accelerate in July and August,” he said. “I think we will see an upward trend in the number of people traveling and occupancy. People are tired of COVID, they have pushed back the demand to want to go out and do things.”

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Sandy A. Greer