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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Revenge travel" — i.e., making up for trip time lost during lockdown — is here.

Why it matters: The result is a speedier comeback for the beaten-down hotel industry that few predicted.

Driving the news: New York City hotel rooms last weekend were 72% occupied, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

  • "The expectation was ... how many years and years and years would it take to recover? Well, guess what? The recovery is happening a lot quicker than anyone imagined," de Blasio said.

Flashback: The pandemic forced the greatest downturn the hotel industry has ever seen.

  • The biggest players piled on debt, laid off workers and slashed costs. Others took advantage of paused loan payments and small business aid.

What's happening: Revenue per available room — a key gauge of the hotel industry's health — in a group of resort-area hotels (places like Key West or Miami) are above 2019 levels, UBS analyst Robin Farley wrote Wednesday in a note to clients.

  • America's hotel room occupancy (83%) was the highest since October 2019 during Memorial Day weekend, according to hospitality data firm STR.

But, but, but: For some hotels, complete recovery is out of reach until business travel and events are back in full force.

  • Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Host get anywhere from 60–80% of their business from corporate travelers or event-related guests, says Jim Dunn, a leisure analyst at CreditSights.
  • "Investors are looking at Labor Day as sort of a demarcation for when we'll start to see the next leg of recovery in corporate travel," says Dunn.

What to watch: The industry is at the center of the worker shortage debate — a problem that could hamper its recovery.

  • "If you can't find enough housekeeping staff to clean all the rooms ... you can't rent the rooms the next night," says STR's Alison Hoyt.

Go deeper

NYC mayor orders city workers back to their offices

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is directing the city's municipal office workers to return to in-person work by Sept. 13, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Despite growing concerns about the Delta variant, de Blasio is intent on showing the city reopening, a promise made during an aggressive vaccination campaign.

20 mins ago - World

Biden huddles with European allies on Ukraine ahead of Putin call

Putin in the Kremlin. Photo: Grigory Sysoyev/Sputnik via Getty

President Biden will seek to convince Russia's Vladimir Putin in a phone call Tuesday that the price of invading Ukraine would be steeper than anything he's faced in the past.

Driving the news: Biden held a call on Ukraine this evening with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., while Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to offer America's "unwavering support."

Justice Department closes Emmett Till murder probe

A faded photograph is attached to the headstone that marks the gravesite of Emmett Till in Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

The family of Emmett Till announced Monday that the Department of Justice has formally closed its second investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Why it matters: The DOJ reopened the probe in 2018 after the white woman at the center of the case reportedly recanted her allegation that Till, a Black 14-year-old, sexually harassed her prior to his murder.