5 things to know: 13 January 2021
5 things to know: 13 January 2021
13 JANUARY 2021 10:42 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • 498,000 laid off from hospitality, leisure jobs in December
  • Japanese hotel bankruptcies grew 57% in 2020
  • Hoteliers find ways to engage with guests despite masks
  • US to require COVID tests from international visitors
  • Signs of optimism for economic recovery in 2021

498,000 laid off from hospitality, leisure jobs in December: New data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows 498,000 employees were laid off from their jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector in December, The Washington Post reports. Of those, about 75% were employees at restaurants and bars.

Overall employment in the leisure and hospitality sector has dropped 23% since the start of the pandemic, “outpacing every other industry,” the newspaper reports.

“A lot of these places were only just holding on, and a lot of people were crossing their fingers and hoping for the best,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist and senior manager of economic research at Schmidt Futures. “But December was an important reminder that there are industries that will not be recovering until this public health crisis is over.”

Japanese hotel bankruptcies grew 57% in 2020: Data from Tokyo Shoko Research shows there were 118 bankruptcies in Japan’s hotel industry in 2020, a 57.3% year over year increase, the Japan Times reports. This is the first time the number of hotel bankruptcies in Japan has surpassed 100 since 2013.

The bankruptcies leave liabilities of 58 billion Japanese yen ($558.3 million), the article states. The number of failures of midsize or larger firms failing is growing.

Breaking down the bankruptcies by location, 12 of these companies were in Nagano, a prefecture with many spa and ski resorts. There were 11 bankruptcies in Tokyo and nine in Shizuoka.

Hoteliers find ways to engage with guests despite masks: While mask requirements help hotels keep staff and guests safe, hoteliers have found it makes connecting with guests more difficult. In response, some hoteliers have found using custom-created masks, photo badges and enhanced non-verbal communications helps them reconnect, writes HNN’s Dana Miller.

Matt Barba, VP of operations at Charlestowne Hotels, said in an email interview that the team at the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois, has implemented photo badges and custom masks. The masks come in four varieties: one with their branded “Cheers!” on it, two sets of mustaches—one in black and brown—and one with red lipstick.

“We also like to have a little fun, so this was another way for us to do something different in a personal, playful way,” Barba said.

U.S. to require COVID tests from international visitors: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is requiring all international airline passengers show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they board a plane to visit the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reports. The requirement goes into effect Jan. 26.

The testing requirement applies to all passengers, including U.S. citizens returning from international trips, the article states. The U.S. government has previously put a testing requirement on travelers from the United Kingdom. Travelers on international flights to the U.S. will need to be tested within three days of their flight. The airlines are required to deny boarding to anyone without proof of a negative test.

Signs of optimism for economic recovery in 2021: Policymakers and industry leaders told Reuters at its Reuters Next conference that COVID-19 vaccines and promised economic stimulus under the Biden administration could help the global economy recover from the pandemic.

Joe Kaeser, president and CEO of German engineering firm Siemens AG, told Reuters that China is driving the world economy, but he is optimistic about the U.S.’s recovery.

“In the U.S. ... they are holding all the cards and if they put the money to work in a wise way, there is going to be a very, very strong second half of 2021 and especially 2022,” he said.

Compiled by Bryan Wroten. 

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