Hotel bookings drop as virus hits Memphis travel industry

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis tourism officials released new numbers Thursday that show the local travel industry is feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Memphis-area hotel occupancy rates dropped by 18.6 percent year-over-year last week, Memphis Travel President and CEO Kevin Kane said in a release. By Saturday, March 14, the hotel occupancy rate in the Memphis metro area was down 29.5 percent, he said. 

The trend seems to be escalating, and is affecting many other markets, he said. 

Kane cited an industry survey by Skift stating 46% of U.S. travelers have canceled their upcoming trips.

According to that publication, the CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, who said the impact of coronavirus in the United States is already more severe for the hotel industry than the September 11 attacks and the 2008 recession combined.

Kane said his office was tracking best practices in other markets to adapt quickly “once the worst is over.” He also cited innovative strategies like the Memphis Zoo offering virtual wildlife encounters on their Facebook page each day while the zoo is closed.

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