Jacksonville’s hospitality industry recovers from pandemic crisis

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Jacksonville’s hospitality industry, alongside other Florida markets, is showing a significant increase in revenue compared to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new report from the American Hotel and Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs ranks Jacksonville 45th out of the top 50 hotel markets. But when it comes to recovering from the drop in income caused by the pandemic, Jacksonville is approaching the front of the pack with other Sunshine State metropolises like Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.

The lodging association projects Jacksonville’s 2022 hotel revenue for business travel at $296 million and hotel revenue for leisure travel at more than $326 million. Both of these numbers represent big improvements over 2019 revenue – by 3.25% and 16.77%, respectively.

This exceeds the national average, thanks to a very polarized and uneven recovery between many major cities.

The two main US markets, New York and Washington, DC, have seen their hotel revenues decline by more than 20% for business travel and are also in the red for leisure travel.

By contrast, Miami, one of the big winners in the report, saw a 23% increase in business revenue. That $274 million increase — for a projected total of $1.5 billion — nearly equals Jacksonville’s projected total revenue for the year.

Tampa and Fort Lauderdale are also showing significant revenue growth from 2019, even better than Jacksonville and well ahead of the majority of US markets.

Reported revenues are not adjusted for inflation, and Kalibri notes that for most markets, the hospitality industry is unlikely to see a real recovery for several years.

While the job market cools overall, it still tilts in favor of the workforce, as the lodging association reports more than 115,000 hotel vacancies nationwide. A survey conducted by an association in September found that 81% of hotels had increased salaries to attract new employees, and 1 in 3 had increased benefits.

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