Area lodging industry trying to ride out the public health emergency


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SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — The travel industry has taken a beating from the coronavirus. Its trade association has told the Trump administration it will need a $150 billion bailout to recover.

And hotel industry executives have told the president and Vice President Pence this week of a “catastrophic toll” on its workforce — and its balance sheets. One major U.S.-based lodging chain has laid off tens of thousands of workers. Locally some lodging properties, especially in the eastern panhandle, are hanging in for the time being with so many out-of-state workers relocating to the region. But for the tourist trade, this is the worst it has ever been.

David and Lauren Duh run the Thomas Shepherd Inn, a bed and breakfast in a historic brick federal style home on the corner of Duke and West German Streets. Their prime market is in the thriving Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area where a weekend getaway is so convenient.

But with shops, and especially dining spots and restaurants closed by the public health emergency, “the phone just doesn’t ring,” says Lauren Duh.

“We’re getting cancellations,” says David Duh, who agonizes over the uncertainly of how long the public health emergency will last. He has a teaching degree, but with schools closed where would he find a classroom?

The president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association may well have David and Lauren in mind: he says the coronavirus is hitting his industry harder than Nine-Eleven and the 2008 recession combined.

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