Tourism industry looking to long term to fix labour shortage

Labour day weekend was busy on P.E.I., but some tourism operators are having to close for the season early because they can't find workers. (Carolyn Ryan/CBC - image credit)
Labour day weekend was busy on P.E.I., but some tourism operators are having to close for the season early because they can't find workers. (Carolyn Ryan/CBC - image credit)

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the developing labour shortage worse, says the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I.

Tourism operators have always faced challenges staying open in September when students return to school, said TIAPEI CEO Corryn Clemence, but the situation is worse this year.

"The pandemic has brought to the forefront the challenge that we're starting to face, and it's at a much greater level than we've seen in the past," said Clemence.

It's a national problem, she said, but she believes there are issues P.E.I. is facing in particular. Some issues are directly related to the pandemic, such as difficult access to new immigrant workers and temporary foreign workers, but others are more difficult to understand.

Clemence said research is needed to gain a better understanding of the problem.

"We don't have any immediate fixes," she said.

"This appears to be a challenge we will be facing for the next number of years."

The labour shortage is forcing some operators to close for the season early, she said, despite strong bookings for September and October.

The extension of pandemic restrictions further into the fall than expected remains an issue for festivals and events, Clemence added.

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