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Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 4, 202012:20 PM EST

Report finds Jacksonville hotels faring better than rest of country

Occupancy in 2021 predicted to hit more than 60% in Duval County.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The hospitality industry crashed nationwide in April because of the COVID-19 business shutdown that began in March. It is slowly recovering, but it’s not expected to return to prepandemic volumes until, possibly, 2014.

The good news is the local market is performing better than the national averages in some key metrics.

Visit Jacksonville released Sept. 2 the Jacksonville tourism forecast for 2020-21 prepared by Smith Travel Research and Travel Economics, firms that track local and national trends in the hospitality industry.

Nationally, room occupancy is predicted to be lower than 40% for 2020; Jacksonville hoteliers are expected to be more than 53% occupied for the year.

In 2021, U.S. occupancy is expected to barely break 50%, while Jacksonville is predicted to hit more than 60%, much closer to the 65% “break-even point” for a hotel.

“Performance recovery is going to remain slow and well off of the pre-pandemic pace until the context for travel improves and group business begins to return,” said Amanda Hite, STR president, in the report. 

Like the rest of the country, the forecast for Duval County is for continued COVID-19 impacts through the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

Occupancy growth in Jacksonville is forecast to grow in 2021 to 60.9%, lower than the predicted U.S. growth percentage. That likely is because Duval County fared better than the national average for occupancy since the start of the pandemic, according to the report.

Supply growth in Jacksonville will increase in 2021 by nearly 3% because there are hotels in construction. If projects in the final planning stage move forward with construction, there is potential to see even more supply growth.

“Economic recovery is ongoing, but fragile, and COVID-19 is expected to continue to define the travel environment through the first quarter of 2021. This sets a pace of tempered, cautious recovery in travel activity in the near term, with much stronger growth anticipated in the second half of next year,” said Adam Sacks, Tourism Economics president. 

According to STR and Tourism Economics, full recovery in U.S. hotel demand and room revenue remains unlikely until 2023 and 2024, respectively.

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