Local hospitality industry loses estimated $15M due to COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Jun. 11, 2020 at 6:03 AM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau is estimating local hospitality has lost millions of dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social events all over the city have been canceled, and competitions have been rescheduled for next year - leaving a strongly negative impact on hospitality and tourism.

Restaurants are losing customers and hotels are losing money.

“We are seeing high 30s in terms of hotel occupancy, which is we never thought we’d say, ‘Hey that’s great - we’re almost at 40% occupancy,’" Jim Wood, president and CEO of Visit Evansville said.

In just a few months, the hospitality industry has lost nearly $15 million due to cancelled events, like frog follies and school events.

“Big band competition, a musical or a play - those things are added that help us with our diners and our bar patrons, so that is an added bonus when they have events like that,” Roca Bar North owner Steve Hammer said.

However, business owners are getting creative and bringing back the things they know their communities love.

“We’ve lost May, we’ve lost part of June, but hopefully the last three and a half months will be good and if the weather is great, then there’s not much better than outdoor music in Evansville," Hammer said.

“The visiting friends and relatives is the largest traveling segment for us, so that will rebound somewhat,” Wood said. "Corporate travel will start to re-engage again. The meetings and convention market will be the slowest segment to come back.”

Local travel officials expect next year’s hospitality revenue to be better than ever and are working to make sure it exceeds expectations.

Meanwhile, the Visitors Bureau is working on developing a database and marketing tools so that officials can reach out to convention customers once things reopen, in order rebook and schedule new convention business for the city.

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