I never thought I would celebrate hotel occupancy rates reaching 50 percent but that’s what I’m doing today after receiving the Smith Travel Research Report on hotel statistics. On June 5 and 6, hotel occupancy was at 51.7 percent and 51.8 percent respectively.

For the week of May 31-June 6, occupancy was at 45.1 percent, average daily rate at $69.74, demand was 19,093 and hotel revenue reached $1.33 million. Those stats are still down compared to the same time last year -- 35.7 percent, 23.2 percent, 34.4 percent and 49.7 percent -- but they’re a significant improvement over recent weeks when stay-home orders were in place and travel nearly came to a standstill worldwide because of the pandemic.

The good news continues with an unexpected group booking that will bring up to 1,400 people to the city in September. The National Rifle Association’s Member Meeting will generate nearly $900,000 in spending.

And, with a few exceptions, attractions and other businesses have reopened with new protocols in place to protect the health and safety of patrons and employees. Events, however, are not taking place at the same pace as in previous years due to restrictions on how many people can gather.

It’s my sincere hope that we don’t experience a resurgence of the virus that requires stay-home orders to be issued once again. The impact on the economy has been tremendous and the nation is now considered to be in a recession. The travel and hospitality industry has been hit especially hard with unemployment rates estimated to have reached more than 50 percent, nearly double the rate of other industries. I can’t imagine what a second shut down would do to the economy.

Please be safe and practice the safety habits recommended by health officials. Maintain social distance and wear masks when in public. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Stay home if you’re feeling ill. Let’s stop this thing