MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More than 36,000 travel and hospitality workers in Minneapolis have been impacted by the pandemic.

That has “Meet Minneapolis” looking at ways to bring business back. The tourism organization said the city has been impacted not just by the pandemic but also the unrest that followed after the death of George Floyd.

During a virtual meeting Thursday morning, numbers put the past year into perspective.

“As the result of COVID-19 and the pandemic, Minneapolis lost more than 1.6 million hotel room nights,” said Melvin Tennant, president of Meet Minneapolis.

That statistic has contributed to the city’s hospitality industry being down 40%.

In fact, more than half of all jobs lost in Minneapolis have been in the leisure and hospitality industry. But there are reasons for optimism.

“The next few months will continue to be difficult but I see glimmers of hope on the horizon,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics. He said Americans are slowly gaining confidence in domestic travel. As vaccination numbers increase and jobs return, he’s predicting a rebound sooner than later.

MORE: Next In Line For Vaccine Rollout Will Be Minnesotans With Underlying Conditions, Essential Workers

“You are looking at a summer where the stage is being set for an entirely different environment than the 2020 summer we lived through. In fact, one where while we will still be living with COVID, but in an environment where travel can begin to become unhindered by COVID,” said Sacks.

Some of the optimism centers on the potential return of fans to Target Field. The Minneapolis Convention Center is also planning for the eventual return of conferences and events. A report by the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce shows that the city generates 3.5 times more in tax revenue to the state than it receives in state aid. A statistic that shows how badly a return to normalcy is needed.

RELATED: Report: Minneapolis Pays Significantly More In Taxes Than It Receives In State Aid

“The only way we get economic recovery in Minneapolis is by getting our travel industry recovered,” said Sacks.

Sacks told Meet Minneapolis that he believes leisure travel will see a significant return the second half of the year, and 2022 will be closer to normal.

He said business travel will also come back but it will take more time.

John Lauritsen