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Struggling Hotel Industry Asks Mayor Bill De Blasio For Financial Help After Being Hit Hard By Pandemic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City's struggling hotel industry has issued a plea for help. Owners are asking Mayor Bill de Blasio for a financial lifeline to save thousands of jobs.

Stress has become a part of life for Bilal Yayla.

"Everyday when I come to work, if the light's on, I say, OK, today I have one more day job. But tomorrow, who knows?" Yayla told CBS2's Andrea Grymes.

The married father of two has worked as a bartender at the Wheeltapper Pub at the Fitzpatrick Hotel in Midtown for 20 years.

In March, he was laid off for four months. He was rehired in July, but with few customers and fewer tips, his salary is down some 60%.

"My minimum wage doesn't even cover my insurance," Yayla said.


The pandemic and lack of tourists has hit the hotel industry catastrophically, according to the Hotel Association of New York City.

Pre-COVID, it employed more than 50,000 people. Now, half those jobs are gone. About 200 out of 700 hotels have closed.

"Thousands of jobs have been lost and billions of dollars in economic activity has just evaporated," said Vijay Dandapani, with the Hotel Association of New York City.

All of this is why the association, with the backing of several elected officials, has launched a new ad campaign.

One ad says, "50,000 New Yorkers rely on hotels for work - but hotels can't stay open without help."

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They're asking the mayor not to penalize them for late payments on taxes.

"Right now, the interest rate is 18% if you default on your property tax relief, and that's a killer in terms of reopening," Dandapani said.

The historic Lotte New York Palace hotel in Midtown has managed to stay open, but the general manager says they had to lay off 80% of their staff.

She's hoping some help now will jumpstart a recovery later.

RELATED STORY -- Mayor De Blasio To Sign Coronavirus Protections For Business Owners, Hotel Workers

"We can't wait to welcome tourists back to New York City. This is what New York City is about," general manager Becky Hubbard said.

This new campaign also includes a petition, plus radio and television ads that will start airing in February.


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