Many hotel operators have received no federal aid during the pandemic, and nearly half are in default on their mortgages, Mr. Dandapani said. More than 40 hotels have fallen behind on their property tax payments to the city, which could put them in “a downward spiral” that they cannot escape, he added.
But even the beleaguered hotel business is seeing glimmers of recovery. The Mandarin Oriental rehired more than 100 members of the Hotel Trades Council union for its reopening on Thursday, the hotel’s manager, Susanne Hatje, said. The Mandarin is offering discounted rates starting at $716 per night, 20 percent below prepandemic prices.
The nearby Park Hyatt also reopened on Thursday, and other hotels are expected to join the trend as tourists trickle back. During the week that ended March 20, the city’s hotels had an occupancy rate of 50.8 percent, the highest in more than a year, according to STR, an industry research firm.
Tourism may start to pick up slightly by late summer if fans return to the stands at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens. And if delegates come back to Manhattan in September for the United Nations General Assembly, hotels may fill more rooms.
The city’s tourism promotion agency, NYC & Company, has forecast that the number of visitors will climb to 38 million this year, up from about 23 million in 2020, but still down about 40 percent from a record high level in 2019.
Despite the city’s precarious situation, E.J. McMahon, founder of the Empire Center, a conservative research group, said he was wary about the extraordinary amount of federal aid flowing to the region.
The pandemic’s impact on New York’s economy appears to be much deeper and longer lasting than the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack two decades ago, he said. “There’s going to be a hangover from this, a significant hangover.”