ATLANTA, Ga., Feb. 10, 2023 – Laura Lee Blake, President & CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), released the following statement in response to ongoing reports that economic headwinds could force more hotel owners into serious financial challenges, including bankruptcies and out-of-court restructurings this year:
“Our members have taken extraordinary steps over the past three years, and, in numerous cases, counted on pandemic relief aid to weather the worst of COVID-19. Many continue to operate on thin margins with smaller workforces. The tight labor market with record unemployment levels have made it difficult to hire.
“Hotels and other small businesses are the backbone of local economies, and AAHOA Members – the vast majority of whom are first- and second-generation immigrants – are resilient. However, staffing shortages, rising interest rates, and the possibility of a recession this year, even a mild one, are creating further strain on an industry that is still struggling to recover from a devastating pandemic.
“The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by TOMS King reminds us that small businesses, including restaurants and hotels, continue to suffer long-term impacts from COVID-19 and an overall uncertain economic environment with high inflation and labor shortages. As President Biden noted in his State of the Union speech this week, the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive with a record number of Americans starting small businesses. But the outlook for many of those businesses remains cloudy.
“AAHOA Members need certainty and continued federal assistance while these economic headwinds rage.
“The government should lift constraints on H2-B visas by eliminating the caps altogether or, at the very least, exempting returning workers each year, and then expanding the list of eligible countries to include India so there are options available for addressing employers’ needs for additional seasonal workers.
“Further, while restaurateurs received grants from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, hoteliers have not seen the same support. Many need solutions to address, among other things, the pending payments due on COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) by waiving interest and/or deferring for another year.
“With assistance, the headwinds will no longer hold back the economic recovery of our hotels. We will instead experience the tailwinds that push us forward to accelerate growth and development for the benefit of our guests, employees, and the industry at large in future years.”