PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Florida is a major tourist destination, and the hotel industry took a big hit during the pandemic, but now business is turning around and they’re dealing with a whole new problem— not enough employees.

“The difficulties right now are staffing, getting the employees, we're still down considerably from 2019,” said Eric Waltz, General Manager of the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach.

What You Need To Know

  • As beach business bounces back from pandemic, employers don't have enough employees

  • Travel industry officials from across Florida meeting to discuss challenges

  • Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce

Waltz said occupancy rates are great and have rebounded, but now they need staff to accommodate all of the visitors.

At this year’s National Tourism Week Luncheon in St. Pete, travel industry professionals from all over met to discuss the rebound from 2020, and its challenges.

Visit Tampa Bay said March was the turning point for Tampa Bay tourism, and the second week of April they saw an average of 74.3% occupancy in hotels compared to 2019’s occupancy record of 71.6%.

Now, tourism officials are looking for new ways to attract, and retain, employees in order to keep up with what’s projected to be a busy summer.

“It is a national crisis, but we're focused here in Pinellas County on creating job placement services,” said Robin Miller, President & CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. “And many of our partners are offering sign on bonuses, stay on bonuses, and even entry level wages have been jacked up quite a bit.”