Crain’s New York Business: Hotel industry endorses Hochul to keep supporting its comeback


January 7, 2022 2:12 PM


The industry groups representing New York City hotels are getting behind Gov. Kathy Hochul in this year’s election, following in the footsteps of the hotel union, which endorsed her in December.


The Hotel Association of New York City and the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association said the governor would be the best leader for the hard-hit tourism and hospitality sectors.


“Gov. Kathy Hochul has demonstrated a clear understanding of the unprecedented difficulties faced by the hotel and tourism sector, acting quickly to provide meaningful relief while ensuring her ongoing support for our long-term recovery,” said Vijay Dandapani, president of the city group.


The broadly defined tourism industry has sustained a longer spurt of slow business than most industries. The number of international visitors was down 86% in 2020 compared to 2019; domestic tourism fell by 37%. Many hotels closed. Because of restrictions, 2021 was not the expected comeback year for hotels; only 40% of the jobs there were pre-pandemic as of November. For hotels, December started strong. But reservations and events were canceled later in the month and into January as Covid-19 cases rose and public health rules grew stricter. The week ending Jan. 1 saw an occupancy rate of just 65.8%, lower than this period in previous years, Dandapani said.


Hochul allocated $450 million to tourism groups in November. That included $100 million in one-time payments of $2,750 to sector workers, another $100 million in financial incentives to companies that rehired workers, $200 million to businesses that started just before or during the pandemic, $25 million to subsidize business events and  $25 million for marketing.


A month later the Hotel Trades Council, which represents employees at hotels and in the gaming industry in New York and northern New Jersey, endorsed the governor.


“We turned to Gov. Hochul—and she actually listened,” according to the post about the union’s endorsement on its website. 


“The past several months have been some of the hardest for me and my family,” wrote Erik Owusu, a union member who is laid off from the Crowne Plaza hotel. “I am incredibly grateful to our union for fighting to get us every penny in financial relief and to Gov. Hochul for finding a way to support us and hopefully get more of us back to work.” 


Hochul said in a statement that she was proud to receive the latest hotel-industry endorsements.