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Hotels in FM area slash prices as shutdown causes some to remain closed

There's optimism among city leaders things will rebound
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 7:00 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - North Dakota and MInnesota continue opening back up as other parts of the United States deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Yet, one industry is still feeling the shutdown’s impact and that’s hotels.

“North Dakota opened up much faster than Minnesota did and that is helping a lot,” Rakesh Oza said.

Oza owns the Budget Host Inn in Detroit Lakes and the Super 8 in Bismarck.

Oza said his hotels took a drastic hit beginning in late March and all the way through the Memorial Day weekend.

“We were very very slow compared to last year or any year for that matter in history,” Oza said.

Oza is not the only one.

In Fargo, the owner of the Quality Inn, Quality Suites, and Econo Lodge had to close. All three are located near West Acres Mall.

The coronavirus pandemic caused at least a thousand hotel employees in the Fargo-Moorhead area to get laid off and apply for unemployment benefits, according to employment data.

But, positive signs have emerged in the last few weeks that things are turning around.

Charley Johnson is the president and chief executive officer of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Johnson said he knows of at least eight hotels out of 63 in the area that were forced to close due to the pandemic.

“Tourism and travel industry took a mighty hit in mid-March to early April,” Johnson said.

A big concern for his office is the tax revenue that’s been lost because of the high vacancy rates.

“Our budget has been devastated along with the hotels because our revenue here at the CVB is tied inexorably and directly to hotel revenue,” Johnson said.

This weekend Fargo missed out on one of its biggest money makers, when the annual Jehovah’s Witness District Convention canceled.

“That’s about 4,000 people, so that’s far in a way the largest meeting gathering that we have here,” Johnson said.

Hotel rooms are also at their cheapest as there is currently a glut of vacant rooms available.

Still, Johnson said there’s room for optimism as sports getting underway is giving a boost to local hotels.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney told Valley News Live he’s optimistic the tourism industry will return this summer and fall, and he expects Governor Doug Burgum to continue reopening the state.

Copyright 2020 KVLY. All rights reserved.

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