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Longer wait needed for summer travel forecast, fewer options


Lifeguards and hotel housekeepers are in short supply. So are rental cars. And don’t count on having fruity cocktails at Hotel Tiki Bar.

Some hotels are not filling all their rooms or changing sheets so often because they do not have enough housekeepers. Six of the most popular national parks – including Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Acadia and Zion – will require advance reservations for many visitors to allow for social distance.

“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said Charming Ins president Michelle Woodhull, including four small hotels and a fine dining restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina.

The company has limited room reservations by 20 percent over the course of a few weeks and reduced seating at the restaurant, Woodhull said, who recently complained to a customer who had not received a table for four weeks.

“Unfortunately, this is a reality,” she said, adding that it is better than serving poorly. “What business wants to shut down the business, especially after the year that we have?”

Nevertheless, the tourism industry is showing signs of coming back. Airline officials say domestic leisure travel is at pre-epidemic levels, and the number of people passing daily from US airports is likely to be above 2 million before the week ends – the first that began in March 2020. Has happened after.

Air travelers planning to rent a car during Memorial Day weekend may be out of luck. Rental cars are rare, and they are expensive – according to government data, the average cost has nearly doubled compared to a year ago.

AAA Auto Club estimates that 37 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home in the upcoming holiday, a 60% increase from the previous year. But if AAA is right about this weekend, it would mean that 6 million fewer people will travel in 2019 than those traveling on the same holiday.

The reasons for labor shortage are hotly debated. Many employers blame the federal government’s additional $ 300 a week in unemployment assistance. But many hospitality workers who suddenly lost their jobs a year ago have moved on to new careers and are not returning.

“Some employers in the hospitality industry want to hire new employees at lower wages rather than recalling laid-off employees,” said D. Taylor, president of the hotel, gaming and airport workers union Unite Hear.

He told a congressional subcommittee this week that large hotel chains are considering eliminating housekeeping and guest-services jobs, and casinos are moving to cut jobs in food and beverages.

“It’s bad for customers, but it’s also bad for workers and communities because housekeepers, cooks, servers – it’s the backbone of the service economy,” Taylor said.

Peter Atlantic, director of Florida Atlantic University’s hospitality and tourism management program, said a survey of 4,000 travel and tourism workers earlier this year showed that many people got jobs with higher salaries and projected schedules and soon There are plans to leave the industry.

The travel sector overall, he said, faces a moment of change and will need to offer better pay and benefits and rethink how it treats employees.

“It is time for our industry to wake up and see that this is an important thing. We are lacking for a reason, ”said Kathy Balestriere, general manager of Crane’s Beach House, a boutique hotel in Delray Beach, Florida.

She has managed to keep most of her staff and brought in outside workers to provide massages and yoga, but the hotel is not serving breakfast, and the poolside tiki bar is closed because there is no one to serve drinks. Managers and maintenance staff are tasked with housekeeping duties.

Funtown Splashtown USA, Maine’s largest amusement park, which opens Memorial Day Weekend, is running hours behind and working only five days a week because it is not getting enough staff.

The park in Saco, Maine, still needs lifeguards, ride operators and cleanup crews, while offering four season passes for salary increases and summer rentals. The low number of international students is another problem for the largest seasonal employer in the state.

Raj Kapoor, who manages a popular food court at Belmar, New Jersey, beach, has hired 14 people for the summer, but they still employ eight to 10 people to scoop ice cream, roll up baritos and soda. , Can be used to sell milkshakes and candy.

The labor shortage has affected their occupation in other, less obvious ways. A shipment of soda that was promised the next day took a week and a half to arrive because the distributor did not have enough delivery drivers.

Diners in tourist hot spots should not be surprised when they find restaurants with limited hours, streamlined menus and some seating segments closed, said Barry Gutin, formerly co-owner of the Cuban Libre restaurant chain. The table awaits. Coast.

To attract workers and help them move forward, they have raised salaries and offered English and Spanish language courses and personal finance training. But recruitment has still been a challenge. Their location in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is currently open for dinner only – not even for takeout or delivery.

“We’re protecting the guest experience from over-seating,” he said. “We’re hoping that they understand that things are a little different from pre-pandemic.”

Whatever the destination, passengers should ensure that they call ahead and be ready to change plans at a moment’s notice.

Jamie Gobble was set to fly to Ohio from his home in Waco, Texas, to join his family for three days next week at Cedar Point Amusement Park, where he celebrated his nephew’s high school graduation Was planned

But nine days before his flight, the park announced last week that it would be closed two days a week most months due to staff shortages.

“Not just the park, the hotel, too,” he said. “So we were out of a place to live. It all makes sense, but we thought they had come to know something.”

Instead, he quickly moved plans to ride a roller coaster at Dollywood in Tennessee and go hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Associated Press writer David Koenig in Dallas, Wayne Parry in Belmar, New Jersey, and David Sharp in Portland, Maine contributed to this report.

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Longer wait needed for summer travel forecast, fewer options