5 things to know: 9 July 2020
5 things to know: 9 July 2020
09 JULY 2020 9:38 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • UK slashes hotel value-added taxes to help sector
  • Unemployment claims reach lowest level since April
  • Weekly hotel results for the US, Canada
  • Changes to hotel fitness offerings amid pandemic
  • Hong Kong hotel turned into security headquarters

U.K. slashes hotel value-added taxes to help sector: The United Kingdom government on 8 July put into law changes designed to help the hotel and hospitality industry suffering as a result of COVID-19 and the drop in demand. Top of the list are reductions in value-added/sales tax on hotel overnight stays and restaurant bills from 20% to 5%, albeit on a provisional six-month term limit.

The VAT reduction has long been a demand of U.K. hoteliers, who state that the 20% rate does not help them compete with low rates of sales tax charged in several European countries. The government also announced a £1,000 ($1,257.15) payout for firms who bring back employees from furlough and retain their employment until at least January 2021.

Unemployment claims reach lowest level since April: The number of people in the U.S. applying for unemployment benefits has reached its lowest level since April, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Initial unemployment claims moved down to 1.3 million and the number of workers receiving benefits “eased slightly to 18.1 million, signs the labor market continues to heal,” the news outlet reports.

For the week ending 4 July, data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows the number of new applications for unemployment benefits “fell by a seasonally adjusted 99,000.”

Weekly hotel results for the US, Canada: Hotels in the U.S. saw declines in the three key performance metrics for the week ending 4 July, according to data in a release from STR, HNN’s parent company.

Occupancy decreased 30.2% to 45.6%, average daily rate declined 20.9% to $101.36 and revenue per available room decreased 44.8% to $46.21.

“Occupancy had risen in week-to-week comparisons for 11 straight weeks since mid-April,” the release states.

Changes to hotel fitness offerings amid pandemic: Once hotels reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic, fitness and wellness offerings will look very different for hotels, HNN’s Terence Baker writes.

Services will be less accessible and “will no longer take place in standard gym spaces,” Baker writes.

Wellness offerings could move from public spaces to guestrooms, sources said.

Hong Kong hotel turned into security headquarters: A hotel near a city center park in Hong Kong has been turned into a national security office by the Chinese government. The site of the new headquarters “has been one of the most popular venues for pro-democracy protests,” Reuters reports.

“The office, which operates beyond the scrutiny of local courts or other institutions, will oversee the Hong Kong government’s enforcement of the sweeping national security legislation that Beijing imposed on the city last week,” according to the news outlet.

Compiled by Danielle Hess.

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