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Nearly 20% of workers in Dallas tourism industry have lost job in pandemic

According to new statistics, 55,480 of Texas' 145,617 hotel jobs in Texas, are gone. That's the fourth-most in the country.

DALLAS — The hotel industry has been one of the parts of the economy hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dallas is no different.

About 13,000 of the city's 65,000 jobs, or 20%, directly connected to the tourism industry have been lost because of the pandemic, according to VisitDallas.

"Almost overnight, everything changed," VisitDallas President Craig Davis said.

Davis' not-for-profit organization has been directly hit since a large percentage of their funding comes from the hotel occupancy tax.

VisitDallas is currently down about 70% of its normal revenue.

"The effect has been devastating," Davis said.

According to new statistics from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), of the 145,617 total hotel jobs in Texas, 55,480 are gone. That's the fourth most of all 50 states.

Texas has also seen 5,528 hotels forclose or close during the pandemic.

A September report from AHLA also says that four out of 10 hotel employees are still not working and almost 65% of hotels remain at or below 50% occupancy.

RELATED: Denton hotel forced to cut staff from 175 to 15 due to COVID-19 pandemic

Traci Mayer is the executive director of the Hotel Association of North Texas. She says most North Texas hotels have been forced to cut back on staff and have senior staff members take on multiple jobs.

"They're working the front desk," Mayer said. "They're having to do food and beverage. They're having to do the cleaning of the open areas. They're doing everything."

Both Mayer and Davis say hotels are starting to get creative with their marketing. Many are also starting to focus on people who drive rather than fly.

"You're looking at Oklahoma City," Mayer said. "You're looking at Tulsa. You're looking at Shreveport. These are some of the people our hotels want to offer a safe stay for."

Davis says there's also a bigger emphasis put on planning for years into the future rather than what's happening in the coming months.

"That has to keep going and will always go," Davis said.

There are also more than 20 hotels in Dallas looking to get certified through the new global biorisk advisory council or GBAC star certified. This means, in part, that a third-party company will verify the hotel's cleanliness.

"This is something very serious for our industry and we take it very seriously," Mayer said. "We want to make sure those that are traveling feel secure." 

Five Dallas hotels are already fully certified, including the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas which opens back up in October.

Davis says there is a hope that the Dallas hotel market can see a rebound by April of 2021.