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Hospitality industry in Brazos Valley hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 18:54:27-04

BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — Sporting events, conferences and Texas A&M University fill rooms at hotels in the Brazos Valley throughout the year.

This year, most spring events have been canceled and now some summer events are also being called off or are in limbo.

This has the hospitality industry dealing with financial losses.

Earlier this month, the Brazos Valley Hospitality Association estimated they would sustain about $45.5 million in lost revenue through the end of July but Kindra Fry with Experience Bryan College Station says things are slowly turning around now that Governor Greg Abbott is allowing some youth sports to resume.

“Summertime typically is our busy time with sports events and most of those are youths,” says Fry.

From last year to now, the hotel occupancy rate has decreased by nearly 40 percent.

“Last year in April, we were at 57.5% occupancy where as this year we are 18%,” says Fry.

That means of nearly 6,000 available rooms in the Brazos Valley, not even 2,000 have been occupied.

With the cancellation of events like the annual TEEX fire schools, those rooms are remaining vacant.

“The problem that we ran into were these schools are large schools and because of the current level of restrictions with social distancing it makes it very difficult if not impossible to have large venue events,” explains Gordon Lohmeyer, Division Director of TEEX ESTI.

The three fire schools bring in thousands of individuals to the area over a three week span, a huge economic boost to the area.

“During Spanish school there is typically four to five hundred students. industrial school will be seven to eight hundred students and municipal school its 1500 plus students.”

TEEX'S cancellation of the fire school classes hit the hospitality industry hard, but they're hoping to bounce back.

“I don’t know that we are going to find things that will fill that magnitude of avoid but we do have things that are looking to come or have rescheduled to come during that time,” says Fry.

The Brazos Valley Hospitality Association conservatively estimate that between 60 and 80 percent of travel related jobs have been lost since March 1st.

This means that between 4,500 and 6,075 local residents have been furloughed or laid off due to the impacts of COVID-19.