The continued rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations coupled with additional stimulus funds have accelerated the projected occupancy level for U.S. hotels for the second half of 2021, according to CBRE Hotels Research’s February 2021 Hotel Horizons report, released Tuesday. CBRE forecasts a 55.1 percent occupancy level for the latter half of 2021, up from an anticipated 43 percent in the first half of the year. Full-year occupancy is expected to reach 49.1 percent compared with 41.7 percent for 2020 and 67 percent for 2019.
“Since we developed our February 2021 forecast, the pace of vaccination distribution has topped 2 million a day, more than we originally foresaw,” said CBRE Hotels Research senior hotel economist Bram Gallagher in a statement. “In addition, the recent $1.9 trillion Covid package should boost lodging demand, while providing hotel owners with much-needed financial assistance. The combination of these factors solidifies our improved outlook for the second half of 2021 and beyond.”
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CBRE in the report still forecasts a return to 2019 average daily rate and revenue per available room levels in 2024, but in general projects lower-priced chain-scale segments will recover sooner than higher-priced hotels. Still, “upper-priced properties will see faster growth in 2021, fueled by easier comparisons and an uptick in business and leisure travel,” said CBRE head of hotels research and data analytics Rachael Rothman in a statement. “Based on our forecasts, the worst of the top-line declines are now behind us. We are beginning to see green shoots of a recovery in air travel data, booking patterns and RevPAR.”
Revenue per available room gains will vary by market. Key business cities and those relying on international travelers have the lowest anticipated RevPAR gains for 2021 compared with 2019 levels and include Hawaii, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Boston. On the other end of the spectrum, leisure-based destinations and secondary and tertiary markets will see the highest gains, led by San Bernardino, Calif., projected for 90 percent of its 2019 RevPAR level, followed by Dayton, Ohio; Oklahoma City; Virginia Beach; and Savannah, Ga.
Another factor supporting the improved outlook for the second half of 2021 is a reduction in the growth of traditional lodging supply. The combination of permanent closures and fewer projects starting construction has resulted in a reduction of CBRE’s hotel supply forecast for 2021 to an increase of 0.9 percent year over year, with supply growth estimated to remain below 1 percent through 2023. This is less than the long-run average change in supply of 1.4 percent, according to the report.