Hospitality industry disrupted by COVID-19

Local News

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Summer travel plans are off the calendar for many folks, and that’s causing a ripple effect on the hospitality industry.

The Courtyard by Marriott was scheduled to have their grand opening back in March, but due to COVID 19 concerns, it was postponed until May. It’s been a bumpy start for the hotel, but things are starting to pick up.

“It was a slow go. We did better than we thought we were going to do when we first opened, which opening during a pandemic is challenging in its self,” said Mark Baltushis, General Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott and Sioux City Convention Center.

The Courtyard by Marriott is attached to the Sioux City Convention Center. They had 60 employees hired to run the facilities but had to cut that number to 4.

“The hotel industry, hospitality in general, took the brunt of the job losses that happened with the pandemic,” said Baltushis.

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 2020 is projected to be the worst year on record for hotel occupancy. Nearly 3.9 million total hotel-supported jobs have been lost since the crisis began, and 15,824 direct hotel-related jobs have been lost in Iowa.

“There’s a great deal of uncertainty, and I think that causes people to be hesitant a little bit,” said Chris McGowan with the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce.

Summertime is a big draw for tourists visiting Siouxland, but with COVID-19, few rooms are filling up.

“We’re obviously not looking for huge conferences coming, you know, this year. But, it’s going to be more family staycations, and people driving to their destinations, and things like that. We’re well aware of that. As well as smaller social gatherings in the Convention Center, instead of the large, huge things that the building can hold,” said Baltushis.

Hospitality businesses are putting sanitation at the forefront, following guidelines set forth by both the CDC and Siouxland District Health Department.

“We have enormous confidence in our hotels, in terms of staff, their management to make sure things are safe,” said McGowan.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Courtyard by Marriott, they are connected to the Sioux City Convention Center. A lot of the events from the spring and summer have just been postponed until the fall. So, they are hoping that business will pick back up again.

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