The Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission got another gloomy report this morning on the damage to the hospitality business by coronavirus.
Gretchen Hall, director of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, had modest good news. Little Rock isn’t suffering as badly as the country as a whole (an impact projected at 9 times worse than the impact of the 9/11 attack.)
Receipts from the restaurant/hotel tax were down about 31 percent in April against the same month last year. And that’s cash received. Some businesses have been allowed to defer payments. The hope is that money will come in eventually. Eight hotels are closed, but Hall said she expected all to eventually open.
Hotels were hit much worse than restaurants, with revenue down more than 61 percent against 22 percent for restaurants in April versus the same month last year.
Hall said it wasn’t clear yet how many hotels and restaurants will reopen Monday under the easing of state limits on out-of-state recreational travelers and in-restaurant dining.
Commissioner Jim Keet, a restaurant owner, said, “Slowly but surely, people are starting to come back.” For now, the business is all delivery or curbside pickup. But Monday, they can have diners, at one-third capacity,
Hotel owners said they had seen small increases in businesses, but the losses were so great that the changes were negligible. Hotel owner Yogesh Asudani said, however, that future bookings were occurring that they didn’t have several weeks ago.
Total event/convention cancellations have hit 100 between March 12 and into 2022, Hall said. Another 60 have been postponed.
Hall reported on national travel industry surveys that show a majority favoring easing of restrictions, but only about a third of the people expect an improvement in the virus situation in the next month. Keet said he was surprised that the percentage wasn’t bigger. Comfort levels about travel remain low, surveys show.
One of the survey results showed a majority not planning to take an airplane trip this year.