San Antonio hotels averaging 10% occupancy due to coronavirus, city says

Hotel occupancy taxes typically bring in about $96 million per year

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio’s tourism scene is taking a major hit due to the effects of the novel coronavirus.

Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez on Thursday presented the city’s financial disruption caused by lack of travel, canceled events and the promotion of social distancing.

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Several hotels in the area are reporting occupancy rates of less than 10%, Villagomez said in the meeting in which City Council extended the emergency declaration order to 30 days.

Several hotels in the area are weighing if they should suspend operations, she said.

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This week, Mokara Hotel & Spa, located on the San Antonio River Walk, said it will be consolidating operations with Omni La Mansion del Rio. Additional hotel chains have yet to return KSAT’s requests for comment.

Villagomez added the hotel occupancy tax rate brings in about $96 million per year — 7% of which goes to the City of San Antonio for various departments and 2% of which goes to pay for the Henry B. González Convention Center.

The Convention Center itself has seen 28 of 49 events canceled or postponed, while the Alamodome has seen 10 of 31 events canceled or postponed. The two venues typically generate a combined $33 million per year, she said.

The San Antonio International Airport, where travelers usually bring in about $105 million per year, had a decrease of nearly 70% in passengers on Wednesday.

“The measures that have been taken to slow down the spread of the virus have created global economic disruption,” she said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty."

San Antonio’s coronavirus cases climb to 29, including 6 ‘community spread’

The city’s emergency declaration calls for the closure of nonessential businesses like bars, lounges, gyms, indoor commercial amusement businesses, bowling alleys and bingo parlors until at least April 19. Restaurants can remain open via drive-thru, delivery or take out.

Several places that are still allowed to operate under the emergency declaration include grocery stores, gas stations, places of worship, funeral homes, schools or child care facilities and the San Antonio International Airport.

On Thursday, City Council passed the extension to 30 days instead of seven.

The city has spent $675,000 through March 13 to combat COVID-19, with the majority of the money spent on supplies, medical staff and personnel with the San Antonio Fire Department and Metro Health. Another $925,000 is committed but has not been spent.

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The city will receive a reimbursement in a $1 million grant from the Department of State Health Services, Villagomez said.

The number of coronavirus cases in San Antonio climbed to 29, including six from community spread, on Thursday afternoon.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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