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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) Hotels in Illinois suffered 80% revenue losses during “devastating” pandemic closures, and occupancy rates and the price of hotel rooms lag behind rivals in other states where restrictions have been lifted, an industry lobbyist said.

“We’ve already lost business to states like Florida, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, that have been opened up quicker,” Michael Jacobson, president & CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, said on Capitol Connection. “Illinois is certainly lagging. And many states that have had these restrictions in place are definitely lagging compared to states that have reopened quicker.”

“We’re hopeful — especially with that bridge phase announcement, and eventually advancing into phase five — hopeful that this summer that we’ll be in a position to host those larger gatherings come later this year and into 2022,” he said. “So we’re hopeful that we’ll be in a position to be able to bring those people back and that we’ll be able to start rehiring our workers. The question becomes, ‘are we going to be in a position to just hold on that long while we wait for those large events to come back next year?'”

Jacobson urged the state to provide $250M in grant funding for a ‘Hotel Job Recovery Program’ that he says would allow hotels to rehire staff laid off during the pandemic.

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