Hilton closes 150 hotels in China; other hotels affected

Hilton closes 150 hotels in China; other hotels affected

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Hilton has closed about 150 of its hotels in China amid the growing coronavirus crisis plaguing the country and the rest of the world — and its impact on the hotel industry may be just beginning. In the U.S. specifically, it could cost the country billions of dollars and millions of hotel room stays.

And it’s not just predictions: Hotels in different parts of the world beyond China, the epicenter of the outbreak, are already starting to see dips in occupancy due to the coronavirus, though it will take months before the industry can assess the macro effects.

“This is not a regional phenomenon; this is a global phenomenon,” Jan Freitag, a senior vice president with data research firm STR, told USA TODAY.

What’s going on at Hilton

Hilton’s 150 hotels translate to about 33,000 rooms, Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, said on an investor call Tuesday. While the company is still operating business as usual in some parts of the country, the situation is evolving. At this point it looks like the chain could lose $25 to $50 million in EBIDTA (a financial term meaning earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization), over six to 12 months, including outbreak and recovery period. For context: China is 2.7% of the company’s overall EBIDTA. 

The coronavirus has killed more than 1,110 people with more than 45,000 people infected, has left thousands of cruisers stranded and led U.S. airlines to cancel flights as far out as April.

“It goes without saying that the safety and well-being of our team members and our guests remain a paramount priority as we continue to carefully monitor the situation,” Nassetta told investors. “We’re working with local governments and health authorities globally to best support our operations and our communities in impacted areas.” Elsewhere in Asia: The company has yet to see cancellations for the Tokyo Olympics.

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