The Day – Trade Group: Connecticut may be slow to return to hospitality jobs

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HARTFORD (AP) — Connecticut could lag behind most states in recouping hotel jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic, according to projections from a national trade group.

The Washington DC-based American Hotel and Lodging Association predicts the state will have recovered just under 72% of its roughly 26,000 direct hospitality industry jobs by the end of the year. The projected 7,400 unfilled jobs is a grimmer forecast than that made by the group in May, when it predicted a gap of about 5,900 jobs.

The group predicts that only four states – Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York – and the District of Columbia will return to lower percentages than Connecticut by the end of 2021. It estimates that the hospitality industry will end 2021 with around 500 000 jobs compared to 2019 levels.

Direct hospitality jobs include positions such as housekeeper and front desk attendant, but do not include jobs such as restaurant or retail employees or other industry-supported small businesses hotelier.

Experts say vacation and leisure travel to Connecticut has rebounded, but business travel has lagged significantly. Business travelers represent around 60% of the hotel clientele.

“We still face incredible challenges,” Ginny Kozlowski, executive director of the Connecticut Hotel and Lodging Association, told the Hartford Courant, adding that the industry “is in serious trouble.”

Tourism promotion and the hospitality sector are set to receive more than $60 million in aid through the state budget and federal relief funding, the newspaper reported. The state is also expected to roll out a new grant program early next year that will help hotels and related businesses.

Kozlowski told the newspaper that the hospitality industry could make an additional appeal this year or early 2022 for more help.

More than 70% of Connecticut residents ages 12 and older have been vaccinated, one of the highest rates in the nation. But the infection test positivity rate has recently increased as the delta variant of the virus has spread.

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