LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Several industries have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, including a significant one here in the Lake Area.
“The hospitality industry is like one of the first industries to be affected and probably the last to recover from it," Nimesh Zaver, President of Insignia Hotel Management and local hotel owner, said.
Zaver owns a few hotels locally and, like other area hotels, has seen an around 60% decrease in occupancy.
“Our season normally starts in February all the way through the end of July, our peak season months. We’d be at about 85% occupancy right now and currently we’re running at 20 to 25% occupancy right now. It’s been a big hit," Zaver said.
He said he’s had to lay off and furlough several employees.
“A company our size, we’ve furloughed about eighty employees all together. Now we’re trying to get them back as the economy opens back up and we’re seeing signs of daylight," Zaver said.
That daylight is something Gertinna Simmons, another local hotel owner and vice president of the Southwest Louisiana Lodging Association is excited about.
“Even just since Friday with Golden Nugget hotel opening we’ve also seen a little increase. So hopefully with the upcoming holiday, Memorial Day weekend coming up we’ll see even more of an increase," Simmons said.
However, they both know bouncing back is not going to be easy.
“That business might take some time to get back. It’s going to be a challenge," Zaver said.
“It’s not something that’s going to happen over night. I think we’re going to grow back faster than everyone is anticipating. It may not be as fast as we want, but I think as we see sports come back to the area, we’ll see growth there," Simmons said.
Zaver said he’s on the state’s Resilient Task Force for the hospitality industry, which, as the economy opens back up, will encourage more people to take stay-cations as a means to boost the state’s hospitality industry.