The U.S. hotel industry is showing early signs of a comeback, as nationwide hotel occupancy reached its highest level in a year for the week of March 7, according to STR data.
U.S. occupancy for the week through March 13 hit 52.1%, reported STR, with all but seven states recording week-over-week gains.
Buoyed in part by spring break-related travel demand, Florida enjoyed a solid performance, with destinations like Daytona Beach and the Florida Panhandle seeing particularly high occupancies over the seven-day period. Additionally, Tampa posted the highest occupancy level of any market in the country, at 72.7%.
Other bright spots included Gatlinburg, Tenn.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; San Antonio; and Greensboro, N.C.
During a virtual event held Wednesday by the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta confirmed that the hotel industry appears to be entering recovery mode in earnest, with Hilton seeing its global occupancy levels rise a little higher each day.
"It's going in the right direction," Nassetta told attendees. "And I think when you get to late spring, early summer, you'll have a step change."
Nassetta said he has been encouraged by fast progress being made on the vaccination front, particularly in the U.S., Hilton's largest market.
"When you look at the manufacturing, the distribution and rate of [vaccinations], it is going up at an exponential rate," he said. "That, combined with natural exposure, probably puts us probably no later than summer where you're at a pretty good level of herd immunity. And while that doesn't mean we're done with it, I do think it means that you're through the worst of this."