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NEW YORK — The hotel industry — which employs hundreds of thousands in the tri-state area — could be very slow in recovering, industry analysts say.

Most of New York City’s roughly 130,000 hotel rooms are empty.

“I have to count every penny to go to groceries,” said unemployed Hyatt Hotel Chef Matthew Davis, who is still waiting on his unemployment claim to be processed. “Am I going to have to look for something else and change my job after 31 years? This is the question I have.”

Reopening hotels in a post-COVID-19 world poses unique challenges.Hotels will have to reduce capacity because of social distancing, and enhance their cleaning practices.Less capacity means fewer jobs.

“At least over the next six to 12 months I would not be surprised to see 50% of workforce cut,” said NYU Stern’s School of Business Arun Sundararajan.

In recent years, New York City welcomed about 65 million visitors for business and tourism each year.Sundararajan said people will likely make different choices in the years ahead.

More Airbnb style options were becoming more popular even before the pandemic, he said. Post-pandemic, people will likely look to stay a bit closer to home, and shy away from big cities where they will be in close contact with more people.

“None of this is good news for the New York travel sector and in particular, for the New York hotel industry,” Sundararajan said.

Ultimately, some industry analysts said a hotel bailout may be in order to keep the hotel industry afloat during the tough days days ahead, in anticipation of needing all this hotel capacity perhaps three to five years down the line