Italy’s hotel occupancy rates plunge

Preliminary data from STR indicates steep decline in February

Rome: occupancy rate was down to 21% as of 1 March 2020. Credit: Getty images

LONDON - Cities such as Rome which are far away from the epicentre of the Italian COVID-19 outbreak, are suffering steep declines in occupancy rates. According to preliminary February data from STR, Rome had an absolute occupancy at 21% as of 1 March.

Rome's Ciampino airport was closed last Friday, and a terminal at the city's Fiumicino airport was also closed, authorities announced on Thursday as Italy grapples to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"Italy has become a focal point of the COVID-19 outbreak, so to no surprise, the hotel occupancy impact has been significant in certain markets," said Mr Robin Rossmann, STR's international MD.  

Airport authorities said the decision had become necessary as multiple flight cancellations to and from Italy had been announced by many airlines that normally operate at both Rome airports. The passenger terminals at Fiumicino and Ciampino airports are expected to resume operations as soon as the current state of emergency ends.

"It is important to note, however, that performance declines are more pronounced in Italy in comparison with other countries due to the significant measures being taken by the government to combat the virus spread. The hope is that these measures will position Italy to rise from the situation earlier than other countries in order to offer a safe European destination for summer travelers."

Milan's hotel occupancy reached a peak of 93% on 19 February as the market hosted Fashion Week. A downward trend began on 22 February, and absolute occupancy fell to 8.5% on 1 March amid the closures of schools, gyms, museums and other major cultural attractions, including the Duomo.

Venice reported a steep occupancy decline beginning on 24 February. On 1 March, just 6% of rooms in the market were occupied. The cancellation of the last days of Carnival celebrations (8-25 February) was a factor behind the significant drop.

A downward trend in occupancy became most noticeable in Florence around 25 February, with occupancy falling to 14% on average on 1 March.

Mr Rossmann noted via a webinar last week that despite the significant declines in occupancy, hoteliers have maintained levels in average daily rate (ADR).

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