Nashville’s once-booming hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit in Tennessee, as more residents are staying at home.
The industry is down more than 60% in customers and revenue since February, according to HospitalityTN, a local trade association.
Chuck Abbott, president of Gray Line Tennessee, says the bus tour agency was stripped to the bare minimum after letting go more than 100 employees in March.
“We do some public transit. We’re running some shuttles for health care and employee shuttles for distribution companies,” says Abbott. “But we’re down to like eight staff, a couple mechanics and whatever drivers running the work that we still have.”
The company is one of many Nashville businesses on the front lines of the state’s economic downturn. Last month, hotel management agency Chartwell Hospitality laid off 830 employees.
“I’ve got good friends at both Gray Line and Chartwell. I think you’ve got folks that didn’t get laid off who are trying to keep the ship afloat to weather the storm,” says HospitalityTN CEO Rob Mortensen. “I think it’s a really sad place because … all of those folks are family.”
But hospitality is only one of many fields impacted by the coronavirus. Thousands of automotive and entertainment workers have been out of jobs since the spread of COVID-19.
The Department of Labor says millions of residents nationwide filed for new unemployment benefits just last week. More than 90,000 of those claims came from Tennessee, which was double the prior week.