Visit Raleigh: $60 million in lost revenue due to COVID-19

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Pete Byers can't remember anything like this in his 30 years.

"I think that's true of anybody in restaurants and hotels," said Byers, general manager of the Residence Inn on South Salisbury Street in Downtown Raleigh.

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Pete has had to lay off 50 people as a result--custodial staff, maids, front desk people, etc.

"When you look at your business and you see an 80 percent decline year over year, it's a difficult thing to see happen," Byers said. "The whole not knowing how to forecast it, how to take it look out there when in the past it was going to be a busy time."

Nobody knows when things will look busy again in the tourism arena, even Dennis Edwards, the president and CEO of Visit Raleigh.

He said there are usually 67,000 people employed in the tourism field and 80 percent of those are out of a job right now.

"It really has a big impact on meetings and conventions," Edwards said. "We should be in the height of our concert and festival season and until we know what those look like, those are on hold as well. We are positioned well to recover and recover quickly. We hope maybe as quickly as the early part of 2021."

Since the pandemic took hold, Visit Raleigh has lost 137 conventions and sporting events combined. They estimate those would've drawn 143,118 people and meant 92,616 rooms booked.

Triangle hotels, shops seeing business fall amid coronavirus fears

In all, Visit Raleigh believes $60.5 million will be lost as a result.

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"Our occupancy for hotels typically should be around 81 percent county wide," said Edwards. "The last two months we're down to 33 percent."

Discover Durham said their hotel occupancy rate has dropped nearly 50 percent from where it was a year ago. They do have some smaller events on the books for early August and they are hopeful Durham's cautious and scientific approach to opening back up will mean it will bounce back more quickly.

"Everybody is in this wait and see mode to see when people are comfortable traveling again," said Susan Amey, president and CEO of Discover Durham. "To think we were the best year on record 3 months ago is just amazing."

Visit Raleigh said it has rebooked 23 of the events that canceled for next year already.

In the next few weeks, there will be a decision on the fate of the World of Bluegrass Festival in late September.

"I think there's a lot of optimism at this point," said Pete Byers. "Hopefully it will continue and we don't have any issues moving forward with the resurgence of the virus."
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