Maine Tourism Group Launches Service to Help Members Find Employees
The Maine Tourism Association is casting a wide net to help its members find workers during the state’s busy season. The state’s hospitality industry is feeling a crunch due to limitations on the use of temporary worker visas.
In some ways, Maine’s tourism industry might be a victim of its own success—so many people come to the state each year to enjoy its natural wonder that hiring people to support that tourism industry is a major challenge.
Fortunately, the Maine Tourism Association is ready to help. MTA is bringing on a full-time employee who will specialize in helping connect the association’s members with potential workers who can fill the many seasonal jobs that come up each year.
In a statement to the Portland Press Herald, executive director Chris Fogg said that MTA is planning to cast a wide net to fill the employment need, especially by bringing in workers from other states.
“We’ve seen year after year of successful tourism seasons, and Maine unemployment hovers around 3 percent. These are great pieces of news, but it does mean that there is demand for employees that can’t be met with Maine workers alone,” Fogg explained.
The problem, compounded due to a cut in the number of H-2B visas made available for temporary foreign workers, is serious enough that Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King have made calls in the recent past for federal relief on the issue. It’s also had a negative effect on other regional markets with seasonal needs, such as Maryland’s crabbing industry, Ohio’s landscaping industry, and Arizona’s construction field.
Speaking to the Press Herald, Fogg noted that many of MTA’s members—including restaurants, hotels, and local attractions—have had to limit their hours or shut down early because of a lack of workers.
“At some point, the concern is that labor shortages start impacting the visitor experience negatively,” Fogg told the newspaper. “If you don’t have enough people to operate, you can’t give people the experience they expect.”
Mainebiz reports that the MTA program will begin as a pilot that will take place through 2019, with the goal of expanding services to all of its 1,500 members in the future.
The Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine. (CatLane/E+/Getty Images Plus)