A man rides a moped past a hotel sign in downtown Bar Harbor on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Tourist traffic to Bar Harbor, one of the busiest summer vacation spots in Maine, has been down significantly so far this year due to concerns about the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Bill Trotter | BDN

The pandemic-strapped hotel industry is on the brink of national collapse with Maine standing to lose two-thirds of hotels and direct lodging jobs if Congress doesn’t approve more aid soon, according to a survey released Tuesday by a national hotel association.

The state already had 4,498 fewer direct jobs in the hotel industry from the beginning of the pandemic until September due to the coronavirus and a total of 9,810 jobs supported by the hotel industry, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. It also predicted that 260 of Maine’s 531 hotels could go into foreclosure. The association surveyed 1,000 hotel owners, operators and employees in mid-September.

Nationally, nearly three-quarters of hotels could be forced to lay off additional employees. They already are operating with less than half of their pre-COVID staffing levels. Two-thirds said that without additional federal help such as additional Paycheck Protection Program loans, they would not be able to make it another six months, the association said.

The news comes as House Democrats aired a slimmed-down $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal on Monday night and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have met over the past several days trying to reach agreement on a pre-Election Day relief package. Still, most remain skeptical a deal can be reached before Nov. 3, according to CNN.

“Thousands of hotels across America are in jeopardy of closing forever, and that will have a ripple effect throughout our communities for years to come,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the association, said about the prospect of another stimulus package not passing.

Steve Hewins, president and CEO of HospitalityMaine, an industry group, said the coronavirus has affected large chains and small hotels. The difference is smaller hotels may have fewer financial resources to make it, and larger hotels and chains have laid off more employees.

June and July lodging tax revenues in Maine rose under relaxed state government restrictions, but they remained far below last year’s levels. Lodging sales continued to be hard hit by required occupancy limitations and consumers avoiding those accommodations, decreasing by 39.6 this July compared to the previous year, according to Maine revenue data.

“Help is definitely needed,” Hewins said. “We hope the Democrats and Republicans in Washington will come together soon.”