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New Brunswick tourism season kicks off amid labour shortages

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WATCH: N.B. tourism industry facing labour shortages as season kicks off – May 21, 2022

Christy Kennedy believes it wouldn’t truly be Paddlefest, and the start of tourism season, without bad weather.

The Saint Andrews, N.B. business owner was among the crowd along Water Street excited to see a buzz in the seaside community during the rainy Saturday afternoon.

“I get information from all the other inn-owners and Airbnb’s, and large hotels, and it’s the same trend everywhere, everybody’s really busy this summer,” said Kennedy, the vice-chair of the St. Andrews Tourism Board.

The long weekend signifies a multi-day music festival in the town, as well as a fresh start to a busy season.

Read more: B.C. restaurants call for looser foreign worker rules amid labour shortage

For many tourism operators in Saint Andrews, the lights only remain on from May through October, which makes success in the short period crucial.

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However, many businesses in the community continue to operate with signs in the window stating: “Help Wanted,” or “Job Postings.”

Even Kennedy admits it’s been troublesome finding staff to work the kitchen at her business, The Chandler Room.

Read more: Fredericton businesses eager as events draw tourists

”It’s hard when people come to Saint Andrews on a Monday or Tuesday and most of the restaurants are closed because of staffing issues. We still have tourists. So we’re trying to work collaboratively as a tourism group to make sure there’s somewhere for some people to go,” Kennedy said.

Though they’re only just at the beginning of the season, Kennedy said staff at some businesses are already working overtime to meet the demand.

“So we’re going to be tired in October, but it’s worth it,” said Kennedy.

Read more: Saint John welcomes first cruise since COVID-19 hit

Though the labour shortage is evident in Saint Andrews, staffing troubles persist across New Brunswick’s tourism sector.

“Yeah, it continues to be a challenge for operators all around the province and honestly across the country,” said Andrew McNair, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick.

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When workers in the industry lost their jobs due to pandemic shutdowns, explained McNair, they left the industry altogether, starting new journeys in other sectors.

“We hear about people looking for work, but then we hear that there’s labour shortages, so it’s sort of a chicken and egg thing at this point. We’re just trying to find a way to get people convinced the tourism industry is an excellent industry to be in,” McNair said.

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