The following article by Brian Crawford, executive vice president of government affairs at AHLA, originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of LODGING.
For millions of travelers, hotels serve as a gateway to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. But, for the communities the lodging industry operates in and the people it employs, its value extends far beyond its properties’ walls. A new study conducted by Oxford Economics finds that hotels support more than one in 25 American jobs—8.3 million in total—and contribute nearly $660 billion annually to U.S. GDP.
The study, which breaks down the industry’s economic impact in every state and congressional district in the country, represents the most thorough economic impact analysis of the hotel and lodging industry to date and showcases just how impressive our economic footprint really is. The industry represents $395 billion in compensation, both at hotels and in communities. Since 2010, nearly 300,000 new hotel jobs have been created. Additionally, the industry has invested $186 billion back in communities through local, state, and federal taxes.
Demand for hotels has also never been higher. Each year, 1.3 billion guests stay in America’s hotels, which serve as their home away from home while they shop in local stores, dine in local restaurants, and visit local attractions, spending millions in the process. It’s no wonder, then, that hotels are such a cornerstone of their communities.
Maintaining the industry’s thriving operations and delivering the world-class experiences guests have come to expect and deserve requires a robust talent pipeline, as well as policies and regulations that can help the industry succeed. Hoteliers are facing the tightest labor market in a generation, with the U.S. Department of Labor reporting nearly 1 million vacancies in the broader hospitality sector.
That’s why AHLA and its Foundation are hard at work, advocating for policies that allow hoteliers to meet workforce needs while also developing and investing in innovative programs to grow, groom, and retain the hotel workforce. From expanding apprenticeship programs and investing in Opportunity Youth to advocating for comprehensive immigration reform and expansion of the H-2B legal guest worker program, AHLA is committed to programs and policies that will help meet our workforce needs.
Through it all, AHLA and AHLEF are working to tell your story, and ours. The Dreams Happen Here campaign spotlights how hoteliers are investing in associates and strengthening their communities, as well as the many faces of our industry and the exciting, lifelong career opportunities this industry offers.
We’re proud to represent such a dynamic industry that makes dreams come true every day.