State and Chattanooga tourism industry seeks workers for upcoming holiday season

For the second year in a row, Tennessee tourism leaders are spending their marketing dollars trying to recruit not just visitors, but workers to help staff attractions, accommodations and food services in the the state’s $22 billion-a-year hospitality industry.

The state-funded Tennessee Department of Tourism Development and the locally-funded Chattanooga Tourism Co. are relaunching campaigns this spring to help fill job vacancies in Tennessee’s second-largest industry.

With unemployment near historic lows, filling the 150,000 hospitality jobs across Tennessee is proving difficult this year. Of the 457,323 job openings listed Tuesday at Tennessee career centers, nearly 28,000 restaurant and hospitality-related jobs remain open on the state’s job postings website, jobs4tn.gov.

“The job market is still a very tough challenge for us, and the number of applicants for these positions is still quite low,” said Hugh Morrow, president of Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain and president of Chattanooga Tourism Co., in a statement. telephone interview. “There’s still plenty of hiring to do, and any students or people looking for seasonal or part-time employment, there’s plenty of opportunity.”

Morrow said Ruby Falls could likely use almost 25% more workers than it currently has as it prepares for the traditionally busy summer travel season ahead.

Across the state, the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development and the state’s largest industry trade group, HospitalityTN, are joining a campaign to recruit more job seekers to work in the hospitality industry. . Last year, for the first time ever, the state agency allocated more than $150,000 to fund its “Come Here, Work Here” campaign to try to convince people not just to visit Tennessee, but to stay and work in the hospitality industry.

The state campaign urged potential employees across the country to come to Tennessee for a friendlier climate of music-focused, fun-oriented outdoor work and recreation.

With unemployment even lower this year than last, the program is resurrected to help fill many vacancies as well as the projected 14.2% increase, or more than 42,000 additional jobs, that plans to state will be added in food and accommodation industries between 2018 and 2028.

Locally, Chattanooga Tourism Co. has compiled openings from its tourism partners like restaurants, lodging, attractions and other hospitality-related businesses and posted them to VisitChattanooga.com/Careers. Three dozen local employers had more than 100 jobs posted on the website when it launched this week.

“Careers in Chattanooga’s travel and tourism industry empower employees to shape visitor experiences and be part of the action as travelers come to Chattanooga this summer and beyond,” said Hannah Hammond. , director of communications for Chattanooga Tourism Co., in a press release. “Job opportunities range from all levels and span a variety of interests, from attractions operators and hotel management to baristas and tour guides.”

According to US Travel Association estimates, Hamilton County averages 43,000 visitors per day who collectively spend $4.1 million per day, or $1.5 billion per year.

In 2020, amid the worst of the pandemic, Chattanooga’s travel and tourism industry lost a third of its hospitality jobs and has yet to fully recover them.

To find hospitality career opportunities in Chattanooga, visit VisitChattanooga.com/Careers.

Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter @dflessner1.