The latest Beige Book report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston paints a mixed picture of the regional economy, due to the lingering pandemic along with supply-chain issues and staffing shortages. The hospitality industry in particular is experiencing a long road back to normal business levels.
During the summer months of 2021, Boston Metro hotels saw some recovery in bookings as an optimistic public resumed traveling and gathering. Tourism and weddings brought much-needed revenue to hotels and restaurants. The Cape Cod area overflowed with visitors last summer, and large wedding venues on the Cape are booking into 2024.
However, this is an uneven recovery. A fresh pandemic surge and other business disruptions have postponed or altered return-to-office plans for major employers. The situation has also affected business conferences and trade shows, which are the lifeblood of large hotels. So far in 2022, the New England International Auto Show has been postponed from its usual January date. The New England Boat Show is scheduled for February 16 through 20, and appears to be on track. This is an improvement over last year which saw the cancelation of both events; yet it’s too soon to call things normal.
Still, there is reason for optimism. Consumers have shown resilience to the pandemic and to price increases. Business travel will remain muted during the winter; but industry leaders who can attract tourists and provide special event space may do quite well in the months ahead.
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