Hospitality industry looking for help during dark times

Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 25, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The tourism and hotel industry is taking a hit. It's hurting the hospitality workers and local economy. People in the industry are looking toward elected officials for help.

“It’s been devastating to our local hospitality industry, so far we’re aware of at least 13 hotels that have closed,” said Patrick Kaler, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara.

The spring-summer season is very important to this industry. And now, most of the workers in hotels small and large have been laid off.

“We don’t know if it’s going to be 6 months, 12 months, but in the meantime, what are we to do? Are we to collect unemployment and we wait? Do we find employment somewhere else?” asked LaToya Williams, who worked in the industry for more than 20 years.

LaToya and several others sent an open letter to elected officials looking for guidance.

“Just looking for something, you know anything? Maybe some low interest or no interest loans. Maybe some help with rent and or mortgage,” said Steven Gedra, chef and owner of The Black Sheep Restaurant & Bar.

The letter asks for several things:

  • Rental control for small businesses
  • An extension on unemployment
  • Including pandemic coverage in future contracts
  • Forgivable loans
  • Grants
  • Payroll tax extension without penalties or hidden fees
  • Stimulus package
  • Rent waived
  • Mortgage extensions
  • Moratorium on evictions
  • Approved insurance addendums

They've not yet heard back from elected officials. Even in times of uncertainty, Williams is confident the industry can make it through.

“We’re hospitality strong for a reason. We will be here when it bounces back, we just want to know when that’s going to happen,” said Williams.

In the meantime, she suggests people support the industry by reaching out to those local businesses.

"Even with social distancing you can still prepare and drop off food. You can do a staycation at hotels that are still open,” said Williams.