by Heidi Riley
More than 600 job seekers attended a job fair in Charlottetown hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of PEI (TIAPEI) in April. Forty exhibitors representing about 90 businesses were looking for staff. Another tourism job fair was held in Cavendish in May. About 20 employers were looking for staff.
CEO Corryn Clemence says numbers for the Charlottetown job fair were much higher than expected, and higher than the average in the years before the pandemic. “I think many people may have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. I also think people are just looking to get out. There is a social element to this work. We have been living with restrictions for a year now, and people have the urge to do something.”
There was a great variety of open positions available, including full-time and part-time jobs for Dishwashers, Line Cooks, Maintenance people, Housekeepers, Hostesses, Servers, Groundskeepers, and more.
“For a number of years, tourism operators have seen labour shortages in a number of positions, including Housekeepers and Line Cooks. Now we are seeing a shortage of Massage Therapists. A lot of hotels offer massage therapy as a service as part of their spa treatments.
“I think the 2021 tourism season will play out similarly to last year. We were hoping the Atlantic bubble would be open by now, but we are optimistic it will be open by June and that case counts in neighbouring provinces will be under control. Similar to last year, I do not anticipate PEI being open to the rest of Canada until the fall, depending on vaccine roll-outs and case counts elsewhere.
“This year will probably be one more year of survival for tourism businesses before we can expect things to recover from the pandemic.”