VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement to ease more coronavirus restrictions comes at the perfect time for the hospitality industry.

Businesses are working to get jobs filled as crowds pick up.

On Thursday, the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted a virtual job fair to rebuild the tourism workforce.

Officials said they had a promising show of interested applicants.

We’re told thousands of jobs need to be filled but the clock is ticking.

Memorial Day weekend is just weeks away and the 2021 summer season is already looking up.

“I think people are ready. They’re getting their vaccinations, they’re wanting to go out and dine,” said Stacey Shiflet, exec. director of the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association. “We just need the staff to be able to serve them.”

The Virginia Beach Restaurant and Hotel Associations are optimistic the job fair turnout is another good sign. We’re told close to 300 interviews were conducted.

However, there are more jobs than applicants. About 2,000 hotel jobs need to be filled.

The restaurant association is trying to hire about 275 employees for member restaurants.
Shiflet said the higher unemployment benefits offered throughout the pandemic are a challenge.

“As long as that is happening, we’re probably going to have a very challenging summer,” she said.

It’s a lingering concern for businesses.

“You get one shot with the public generally where they come in and sit down, they either have a good experience or they don’t and if they don’t, they’re not coming back,” said Tyler Floyd, general manager at Quirks restaurant in Virginia Beach.

Floyd said current employees are making up for the unfilled positions.

“Our concern right now is if we’re going at this rate, we’re just gonna burn our staff out,” he said.

They’re hoping to attract high school and college students looking for a summer job or anyone else wanting part-time work.

“We’re willing to give anybody and everybody a chance,” Floyd said. “We’ll teach you, we’ll show you the ropes and get you involved.”

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