Business Monday: More grim numbers for the lodging industry | AspenTimes.com
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Business Monday: More grim numbers for the lodging industry

Staff report
The Snow Queen Lodge on East Cooper Avenue, as seen March 22. Ski area lodges in the West are reporting significant drops in business due to shutdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

Lodging properties in ski resorts in Colorado, California, Utah and other Western states saw their April occupancy drop by 95.6%, a “staggering” figure brought about by the mid-March resort closures triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report issued Friday.

DestiMetrics, which tracks lodging at resorts around the country, said in its monthly market briefing that “data collected through April 30 revealed the dramatic drop for April and its impact on the full winter season.”

If there was a bright spot on the business side of the ski season, it was that the pandemic didn’t shut down ski areas until much of the season was already complete.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the full winter season from November through April was less dramatic since the majority of the season (except for the crucial last two weeks of March), was almost over,” the report said. “As of April 30, occupancy was down 21 percent for the full season compared to last year. In contrast, (average daily rate) finished up 7.1 percent — despite the dramatic decrease in April. The relative strength in room rate was not enough to offset the steep drop in occupancy during the final weeks of the official season, leaving revenues down 15.3 percent for winter 2019-20.”

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Similar lodging trends are revealed in the city of Aspen’s monthly consumption report issued May 13.

The report showed March lodging tax collections for the city’s transportation fund (0.5%) were down 55.3% from March 2019. For the first quarter of 2020, the tax drew $346,054, down 15.1% for that period.

As well, the city’s 1.5% lodging tax for marketing and tourism promotion plunged 53% in March, and the year’s first three months have drawn just over $1 million, also 15.1% lower for the quarter.

The tourist-accommodations sector, which accounts for more than 25% of the city’s annual sale tax collections, generated $81.8 million in revenue from January through March, signaling a 17.4% drop from the same period in 2019.

Lodges in Pitkin County remain closed under public-health orders. Those orders expire May 27, when both the county and state will revisit business openings.

The DestiMetrics report did not appear optimistic for the summer travel ahead.

“The practically nonexistent booking pace during April is clearly apparent in the summer months,” the report said. “For the six-month summer season, occupancy is down 47.7 percent compared to last year at this time. In a bright spot for the lodging sector, (average daily rate) is up a solid 4.5 percent for the summer months, but that increase doesn’t come close to offsetting the low occupancy. Summer revenues are down 45.4 percent as of April 30 compared to the same time last year.”


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