Inside INdiana Business

The Hoosier hospitality sector is recovering quicker than neighboring states

Employees work in a restaurant open for to-go or delivery orders only, in Burbank, California, Nov. 23, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images and CNN)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The president and chief executive officer of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association says Indiana’s hospitality sector is leading the way in the Midwest towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Patrick Tamm credits the state’s response to the healthcare crisis, but he also warns the crisis is far from over.

“While we are significantly off pre-pandemic revenue levels. We are significantly better than our national peers and far and away the number one seed if you will in the Midwest, in terms of revenue and sales. While this is excellent news to many, we are far from healthy,” said Tamm during Governor Eric Holcomb’s weekly COVID-focused news conference.

Tamm, who joined the news conference remotely from the J Ford’s Black Angus restaurant in Terre Haute, says downtown restaurants and central business districts have been hit harder than anyone in the hard-hit industry.

He says Indiana hotels lost 45% of top-line revenue over the past year with fewer overnight stays. Many of the venues continue to lose revenue, especially in downtown Indianapolis. Yet Tamm says Indiana’s hotel sector is faring better than its peers nationally and throughout the Midwest.

“We’re doing significantly better than the overwhelming majority at this time. Indianapolis, specifically the core downtown hotels where we have large group convention hotels, we’re hiring,” said Tamm. “You cannot find another market in the country or the world with group convention hotels that need people need employees at this time.”

While the Hoosier hospitality industry is far from pre-pandemic employment levels, he says the industry is “definitely moving in the right direction.”

Tamm says the hotel industry is having a slower recovery than restaurants and he says they do not expect to return to revenue levels seen before the outbreak until 2024.

“Restaurants, on the other hand, may get there sooner,” said Tamm. “The back half of 2021, according to all economists from a restaurant perspective, does look very positive.”

Tamm praised the state’s response to the pandemic in helping the hospital industry to recover. He says the Indiana State Department of Health’s steps to control the spread of the disease, including mask-wearing, physical distancing, and proper hygiene have been critical.

“I cannot stress this enough. State health officials (have been) working in partnership, partnership, not as adversaries in the state of Indiana,” said Tamm.