- October 13, 2021
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Leaders in Maine’s hospitality industry say this tourist season represents a significant bounce back from last year, however, the pandemic amplified challenges which, they hope, a new plan will help address.
HospitalityMaine calls the newly finalized Dirigo Hospitality 2025 a “reinvention” of workforce development.
One of the issues raised in the 15-page plan, approved by the HospitalityMaine Education Foundation board of directors in September, is “margin compression.”
Profitability is limited right now due to rising food costs, new equipment and labor, according to industry leaders.
Despite that, Greg Dugal, HospitalityMaine’s director of government affairs, says 2021 has seen moderate success.
Lodging performance exceeds total taxable revenue from 2019, according to Dugal, and restaurant performance is on par with 2019.
The five-year plan lays out a series of initiatives aimed at creating a talent pipeline.
It seeks to introduce young people to hospitality fields as early as grade school, partner with community colleges to strengthen training and hiring, reaching out to disadvantaged communities and focus on industry research.
The plan says the state is unlikely to reach past employment levels so they’ll have to do more with fewer, skilled workers.
“Everybody is having to do business in a different way. They’re having to reduce the amount of business that they can do, in many cases. So, even though they look busy, that doesn’t translate into the fact that numbers are better,” Dugal said.
For the holiday weekend, a good indicator of how busy businesses might be coming from traffic counts.
The Maine Turnpike Authority expects a 22% increase in toll transactions over 2020, a 2% projected to increase over 2019 with 1 million overall transactions.
The agency expects to release more traffic data on Monday.
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