SEATTLE - Before the pandemic, Seattle’s economy was humming. Fast forward, several months into lockdown and health restrictions, the economic downturn has hammered our hotel industry.
Occupancy rates are down by historic margins and the loss of tourism has a ripple effect for business owners and workers.
Newly released data shows Seattle’s hotel industry might have the worst occupancy rates along the entire west coast.
There are plenty of rooms available inside Silver Cloud Hotel Seattle - Stadium near T-Mobile Park.
“We should have the hotel full with Seahawks and Sounders fans,” said general manager Bill Weise.
He says business was going great just back in February when the hotel had 130 on the payroll. Now there are barely a couple of dozen left. Other hotels might also be faring similarly or worse.
“There have been about 25 hotels closed, and 130 restaurants that will not reopen,” he said.
“February was a record month for all of us,” said Hotel Andra owner Craig Schafer.
The facility closed for remodeling during the shutdown but has yet to reopen for visitors. During that time, 50 employees were let go. Schafer worries jobs won’t come back until Covid is under control.
“The estimates are anywhere between 3 and 6 years,” he said.
One look at Westlake Park in downtown gives a hint at the problem: Tourism is at a standstill. Visit Seattle complied occupancy rates for hotels across the coast and found Seattle was faring some of the worst.
“Trying to make debt service in this kind of environment is almost impossible,” said Shafer.
“Our outside seating is available,” said Nathan Bainbridge, owner of Premier Meat Pies.
The waterfront restaurant is barely hanging on, he said. Businesses used to depend on hungry office workers nearby, but the lack of tourists has a larger impact.
“This is not sustainable, we need the tourists,” he said.
Weise worries employees he had to let go have already left for work elsewhere. Their absence paired with a struggling tourism economy spreads farther into other businesses.
“Every dollar we receive ripples into the economy 8 or 9 times,” he said.