As one would assume, the travel and tourism industry took a big hit in 2020. With closed borders, travel restrictions, and a pandemic threatening people’s health, all sectors experienced losses. The hoteliers were among the businesses that faced the brunt of this pandemic.
The travel restrictions and the lockdown forced people not to leave their houses unless it was an emergency. This meant that tourism became almost came to a halt. Hence, a large majority of the hotel rooms remained vacant throughout the year.
Between 2019 and 2020, the occupancy of the hotel rooms fell by a staggering 458million rooms. To put this into perspective, only about 44% of the hotel rooms were occupied in 2020, compared to the 66% rooms in 2019. While the occupancy revenue is expected to increase by $25.9 billion by the time 2023 rolls in, this would still be 34% below the pre-coronavirus levels.
Turning Vacant Hotels into Workforce Housing
Despite being vacant, these hotel rooms are far from being useless. In fact, they can be utilized to solve another major issue being faced by the country: the affordable housing crisis.
A lot of people – especially those belonging to middle-level income households – do not have a place to live. In addition to that, the average millennial spends about 40 to 50% of their income just on rent. Even before the pandemic, a lot of people were suffering from this issue. When the job market is stable, rent and house prices skyrocket.
The pandemic has worsened this issue. Since a lot of people lost their jobs after the lockdown was announced, they have found it even more difficult to sustain a steady income and accommodations.
At this point, the Workforce Housing Programs are a sound way these people can be provided with safe, comfortable, and high-quality living solutions. However, the issue is that a lot of people qualify for the workforce housing programs. Yet, these aren’t enough places to accommodate all the people who may be in need of affordable housing.
Building new houses from scratch can take a lot of money, time, effort, and resources. Not to mention, it would be difficult to find people who would be willing to invest in such projects.
According to Maxwell Drever, converting old vacant hotels into affordable housing would be one of the best ways to provide housing to these people. Not only would reusing already established property help solve the crisis the country is facing, but can also be beneficial for the environment as compared to constructing a new building.
All hotels are designed with the comfort of their guests in mind. Almost every hotel room has an attached bathroom, and a lot of them even have a mini kitchen. This means that one would not have to put in a lot of effort to turn these rooms into affordable housing.
Turning vacant hotel rooms into affordable housing can hit two birds with the same stone; it can provide people with affordable housing while also benefiting hotels that aren’t seeing good business.