HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – The tourism industry is being impacted differently in parts of the state of Virginia, according to experts.
Cy and Anna Babcanec are visiting the Oceanfront from the Pittsburgh area. It has been 40 years since they visited Virginia Beach, and they wanted to come back.
“We’re both double vaccinated, so we feel a little better. If we weren’t, we probably wouldn’t have come,” said the couple.
Some hotels that cater to families on vacation are doing well this tourist season.
“We’re actually having the best summer that we’ve ever had in terms of sales,” said John Uhrin, the Schooner Inn general manager.
Cars in the parking lot throughout the Oceanfront have license plates from all over the East Coast and other parts of the country.
News 3 spoke to several tourists on Thursday, asking them why they chose to come to Virginia Beach.
“I love it so much. People are really friendly. It’s super clean down here ,and up at the north they charge you like $12 a person to go on the beach,” said Lori Sibley from New York.
Old Dominion University issued a press release after analyzing new data that was recently released. They said it was from STR, a global firm that provides insights into the hospitality industry.
The data show hotel revenues and rooms sold decreased by 22% and 14%, respectively, in Virginia for June 2021 when compared their pre-pandemic levels for the same month in 2019.
Compared to June 2019, the report showed hotel revenues in June 2021 decreased by 53% in the Virginia portion of the Washington market and by 9% in the Charlottesville market but increased by 10% in the Hampton Roads market.
Eric Terry, the president of the Virginia Restaurant Lodging and Travel Association, said places that support business travel and government travel meetings have taken a big hit.
He said places that cater to families on vacation, like the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, are doing better than other places in the area that cater to business conference settings.
According the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, wiping out 10 years of hotel job growth.
They said for every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels also support an additional 26 jobs in the community, according to a study by Oxford Economics.
They also anticipate a hotel industry job loss of almost 23.7% in Virginia by the end of 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic 2019.
“I think it’s evident that there are jobs available - it’s just unfortunate that we have this environment that people are incentivized not to work,” said Uhrin. “It’s hard for employers to compete with that.”
But Uhrin said he is optimistic about the future and has great staff that has worked for a while. He said it is hard to get new people.
Tourists who spoke to News 3 said they are happy to be out and spending time at the beach.