World Cup host: What it means for hospitality industry in N.J.

In just four years, the world will be focused on New Jersey as it co-hosts the 2026 World Cup. With 16 cities holding games across North America and an estimated 1.5 million global fans expected, we could see a minimum of 100,000 fans visiting our region. The event represents an unparalleled opportunity to showcase what the Garden State has to offer on the world stage. Fans from around the globe will be riding our public transit, eating at our restaurants and staying in our hotels. New Jersey’s elected officials, companies and hospitality groups will need to work together to ensure our infrastructure and accommodations meet the needs of an influx of visitors, all expecting a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Past World Cup host countries have faced pitfalls facilitating an event at this scale, like skyrocketing hotel prices and construction lags. Preparing our state for an event of this scale is a tall order and will pose significant challenges, especially to our already depleted hotel and lodging industry. Ahead of the 2026 World Cup, lawmakers and elected officials must utilize every tool in their toolkit to support the necessary hospitality industries.

In fact, the New Jersey hotel and lodging industry employs nearly 44,000 workers at more than 1,100 hotels across the state, contributing $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue. If the proper investments are made, the state could see significant, long-lasting benefits that reshape the economy and workforce for years to come.

But the truth is, the state of New Jersey has the right foundation in place to ensure the 2026 World Cup is a smashing success: the franchise business model. Statistics show that franchising has become a pillar of the hospitality industry in recent years, with 93% of hotels being local franchise businesses — meaning that, instead of being managed by large, global companies as some might assume, New Jersey’s hotels are owned and operated by local business owners.

Data also finds that franchise businesses provide significant benefits to local economies. On average, they drive 1.8 times higher sales than comparable non-franchises, provide 2.3 times as many jobs, and pay 2.2-2.4% higher wages than non-franchises, attracting local employees and supporting New Jersey workers and families.

Strengthening local franchise businesses won’t just help New Jersey meet the hospitality needs of the World Cup. It will help guarantee millions of dollars for our economy. And, when guests stay at locally owned, franchised hotels, that cash influx will go directly to New Jerseyans, helping franchise owners build their businesses, strengthen their workforce and give back to their communities for years to come.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is dedicated to helping individuals and families realize their entrepreneurship dreams through franchising, and we know the franchise business model has the potential to expand New Jersey’s hospitality infrastructure ahead of a generation-defining event. The last time the U.S. hosted the World Cup, in 1994, it broke attendance records with a sizable 3.5 million attendees. Sixty matches are scheduled to be played in America in 2026, with our very own MetLife Stadium as one of the 11 host venues. Wyndham and its franchise hotel operators need the support of New Jersey’s leadership and elected officials to meet visitor demand, and to ensure the World Cup is a success. Franchising is the path to guarantee that New Jersey is “Open for Opportunity” for the 2026 World Cup and beyond.

Paul Cash is general counsel of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchising company with approximately 9,100 hotels — 66 in New Jersey — across more than 95 countries. Wyndham’s corporate headquarters is located in Parsippany.