Downtown Phoenix businesses hopeful for a bounce back in 2022 after pandemic

Downtown Phoenix relies on business travelers going to conventions, filling hotels and eating at restaurants – however, COVID-19 continues to put a major damper on business when it was expected to rebound.

Earlier this summer, there was excitement to get back to normal, but instead, businesses are seeing more cancelations.

Business leaders in the state have learned that things can change in a hurry during a pandemic. While hope was high this summer for a near full return of business travelers, cancelations are starting to mount.

Jerry Harper with the Phoenix Convention Center says, "The rise of these cancelations coincided with the rise of the delta variant as I'm sure you can understand."

With six cancelations at the convention center, that puts the scheduled conventions at just 32 this year. In 2019, they hit an average of 68, then just 19 during 2020 because of the pandemic.

There's still hope because, in 2022, they believe they’ll have 68 conventions.

"But I think another thing positive out of this is the fact they do want to rebook for future years – really still speaks for the enthusiasm for this destination," Harper said.

Jeremy Wilhide with the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix says he's hopeful as well.

"Looking forward, we think next year will be about 60% of what 2019 looked like," he said.

50% of the hotel occupancy comes from business travelers and it faced cancelations because of those six events being canceled.

"It hurts us all and the local businesses that depend on it. With more bars and restaurants open today than pre-pandemic, that additional support is going to help them recover just as much as us," Wilhide said.

Of those six cancelations at the Phoenix Convention Center, it’s not like they’re disappearing as three have already been rebooked for next year or beyond.

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