SAN ANTONIO — Typically during the month of March, San Antonio is bustling with families visiting for spring break, there's heavy foot traffic on the River Walk and downtown attractions are alive with activity.
But now, the streets and sidewalks are virtually empty. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused many to cancel their spring break plans, affecting the city’s hospitality and tourism industry.
Stacy Seaborn, the director of sales and marketing at Hotel Valencia, which occupies prime real estate along the Vier Walk, said the threat of the novel coronavirus has had a negative impact on the hotel industry.
“The hospitality industry is just devastated," Seaborn said. "It's not like anything we've ever seen."
Seaborn has worked in the hotel industry for decades, and in downtown San Antonio since 2004.
“I've been asked a couple of times whether I felt like it was worse than 9/11 or worse than the economic downturn in ‘08. And I would have to say: Yes,” Seaborn said.
On Thursday, city leaders discussed the negative impact on the city’s economy, saying hotels have reported occupancy rates of less than 10%.
Seaborn said March is a busy month for Hotel Valencia, and they usually see an occupancy rate of 90% to 95%. Right now, they're sitting in single-digits.
She said that, of the hotel's 213 guest rooms, less than 10 are occupied.
“We do have seven guest arrivals today. But during spring break, on a Friday, the busiest Friday of spring break, we would have seen 150 arrivals today,” Seaborn said.
The downturn in business is also having an effect on hotel employees. The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates 44% of hotel employees will lose their jobs in the coming weeks.
Seaborn said they’ve already had to cut 90% of their staff.
“It really does hurt, you know, and knowing that the wonderful, wonderful people that you work with every day are in this situation—it's hard."
But despite the downturn in business, Seaborn said many loyal guests are rescheduling for later in the year.
“I feel like there's a great support for the hospitality (and) tourism industry. It's just that we just need to get through this time,” Seaborn said. “My goal is: Let's move forward. Let’s get everything on the books so that we can so we can start bringing them back, and so I take that very seriously.”
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